By Malawi Exclusive
Malawi President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has expressed commitment to protect , preserve and uphold Malawi media freedoms.
Chakwera said this when he presided over the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day which falls on 3 May annually.
Chakwera said media as rightly called Malawi’s fourth estate is a great partner in development agenda of his Government.
Chakwera said he swore to protect the Constitution of this country and is what he will do with the media.
The president surprised many during the function when he abandoned the presidential high table and opted to sit together with the journalists on ordinary chairs. This was a clear departure from tradition where the other previous Presidents have been sitting high on a podium leaving their guests to their own tables.
Said Chakwera is his inspiring speech: “This oath has a meaning as deep as the waters of Lake Malawi, as reach as wide as the sunset horizon across the Nyika, and a force as enduring as the peak of Mulanje mountain. This oath is so foundational to the very definition of Government that we often forget how fragile it is. We often forget that this oath of office is only fifty-eight words long, all of which can fit on a napkin one uses at breakfast.
“And it is because of this sacred oath is so fragile that its existence must never be confined to paper or pronouncements. That is not what it was meant for.”
Chakwera said instead, the oath was meant to be singed on the “canvass of our minds and branded into the fabric of our hearts”.
He said the oath he took is so critical and need to be preserved all the time.
“Without a total commitment of being and doing every word and phrase of this oath, there is no way I would be able to fulfil the three pledges it binds me to: the pledge to perform the functions of this high office well and truly; the pledge to preserve and defend the Constitution; and the pledge to do right by all manner of people according to law,” he said.
Chakwera said he consider each of these pledges to be sacred, and believe they have relevance for the enjoyment of rights and freedoms as citizens.
“This morning, I’d like to zero in on the second pledge, the pledge to preserve and defend the Constitution. At the risk of stating the obvious, the framers of our Constitution would not have required the President to swear to preserve the Constitution unless they believed that the Constitution is always in danger of being twisted or corrupted,” Chakwera explained.
The President said he decided to invite the media after noting that they are key partners on his Development agenda.
Said the President: “This World Press Freedom Day, I thought to invite all of you journalists here so that I could assure you in person of my personal resolve and my Government’s commitment to the preservation and defense of a Constitutional provision that concerns your profession in particular. I am, of course, referring to Section 36, which says that “the press shall have the right to report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to public information.”
During the breakfast Misa Malawi Chairperson Tereza Ndanga praised Chakwera for being the only president who has shown respect for both journalists and media freedom.