Hope for public service media in Malawi

The Public Media Alliance welcomes George Kasakula as the new Director General of MBC and encourages him to implement much needed reforms.
Malawi Broadcasting Corporation logo

After years of mismanagement, complaints of bias and political interference, the appointment of George Kasakula as Director General of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has sparked hope for the future of public media in the country.

The current Times Group Editor-in-Chief has spoken openly about the need to reform the broadcaster’s image and reputation, saying: “My first job at MBC, therefore, is to sanitise the system and put in place boisterous measures that will change the dynamics and, in the end, turn the broadcaster into a reputable and professional entity.”

Kasakula also nodded to the importance of accountability to the Malawian public, saying: “I owe my allegiance to the people of Malawi, the owners of MBC and these are the people I will dedicate my life to serve without fear or favour”.

Under Malawi’s Communication Act of 2016, MBC is obliged to encourage free and informed opinion on matters of public interest; function without political bias and independently of any person or entity; and provide balanced coverage, especially during elections.

Kasakula’s appointment follows the firing of former DG Aubrey Sumbuleta following a disciplinary hearing. Sumbuleta has since been arrested following accusations of sexual misconduct by a number of female MBC employees.

In July 2020, PMA reported on the importance of reform for MBC following its “unprofessional” and “biased” coverage of last year’s election re-run. At the time, Teresa Ndanga, Chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s (MISA) Malawi Chapter, told PMA that “MBC requires transformation that goes beyond changing [its] leadership.” It requires “legal reforms that guarantee independence and security of leadership positions.” Since then the ability of the country’s President to appoint MBC’s DG has been removed and handed to the organisation’s board.

The Public Media Alliance congratulates George Kasakula on his appointment and urges him to not only ensure that MBC operates impartially and transparently, but also in the interest of the public, free from political interference.