LILONGWE ( Malawi NewsNow) –The Media Institute of Southern Africa-MISA Malawi has expressed concern is a decision by government to reverse stakeholders’ proposals which removed the Head of State as sole appointing authority for the boards and management of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) in the Communications Bill.
MISA-Malawi Chairperson Mr Thom Khanje said the Bill that has been forwarded to Parliament from Cabinet contains significant changes that defeat the purpose of reviewing the Communications Act of 1998 which has widely been viewed as outdated.
The media body is urging Members of Parliament (MPs) to reject the Communications Bill, saying, it is not in line with recommendations and general consensus from stakeholders who participated in its drafting of the bill.
“The independence of both MACRA and MBC was key in the review of the Communications Act of 1998. By maintaining the state president as the appointing authority for the boards and management of the two institutions, the cabinet has effectively rendered the review of the law useless,” said a statement from Misa- Malawi.
The Bill as presented to cabinet, took into account emerging issues in the communications and broadcasting sector as well as the need to align regulations in the sector with progressive democratic principles, Misa chair says.
MISA-Malawi, therefore, appeals to MPs “to reject the adulterated Communications Bill” as it is not in line with recommendations and general consensus from various stakeholders who participated in the drafting of the bill as presented to Cabinet through a broad-based and thorough consultative process.
Khanje has also urged government to recall the bill from Parliament and revert it to its original form as discussed and agreed upon by all stakeholders.
The proposed bill that was sent to cabinet suggested that members of the board of MBC, other than ex-officio members shall, upon being nominated, be appointed by the President and be confirmed by the Public Appointments Committee (PAC).
The draft by the cabinet says the Minister shall, on recommendation of the board of MBC, appoint the Director General, contradicting the proposal that the Board shall, subject to approval by the Public Appointments Committee, appoint a Director General.