Malawi Information and Civic Education Minister, Patricia Kaliati has ordered the state broadcasters, Television Malawi (TVM) and Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), “to soften up” on all news broadcast about Zimbabwe.
According to reports from Malawi quoting informed sources at both institutions, the move was taken on Wednesday hours after President Bingu Mutharika returned from Egypt.
Minister Kaliati is said to have asked both directors generals at the institutions to “be careful with everything on Zimbabwe, which is aired on both broadcasters.
Kaliati warned senior editors at the institutions, which are now being controlled by Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), of some reprisals, in the event that they have gone against her instructions.
“The Minister told Kenson Mbwana and Patrick Khoza, Director General for TVM and MBC respectively, that the President is not pleased with the material about Zimbabwe. The management was told to be selective with what comes out on Robert Mugabe,” said a senior editor, working for TVM is quoted as saying.
The source disclosed that Kiliati summoned senior editors for an “orientation meeting” on how to approach the Zimbabwe political crisis to take place on Friday at her office in Lilongwe.
“According to the Minister, the President feels that by reporting about what is going on in Zimbabwe, we are creating an impression that we are promoting what the west is saying and doing about Zimbabwe. The President would like us to be “soft”, in our coverage about that country,” said the source.
In response Kaliati, described the allegations as “pure rubbish”, but said that the Mutharika administration has no ill feelings about Robert Mugabe.
She said the claims are not true but are the works of the opposition adding that the state media cannot be used to promote the interests of the west who have an axe to grind with Mugabe.
On his arrival on Wednesday, Mutharika for the first time told the west to stop dictating him on what to do on Zimbabwe, saying he would not bow down to any pressure to do so.
Mutharika, who married Ethel, a Zimbabwean has enjoyed a ‘cordial relation’ with the Zimbabwean dictator, to the extent of naming one of the country’s roads built with taxpayers’ money, after “Robert Mugabe.”
Mutharika also has a farm in Zimbabwe.