afrol.com, 6 March - Malawi's The Chronicale reported that Minister of Information Clement Stambuli on Wednesday, 28 February 2001, held what his officials called a "Working Lunch" with media gurus and owners. The lunch was held in Blantyre and was well patronised by both the print and the electronic media.
According to the report media owners were able to question the minister on the recent developments relating to the arrest of journalists from the Daily Times and also about remarks he made on the BBC about Kwangu Liwewe being a "failed journalist" because she had ventured a personal opinion on the radio.
Stambuli said it was regrettable that such a statement was made but cautioned the media about the responsibility of being "patriotic" and giving balanced information. This drew some debate.
In his opening remarks the minister stated that the meeting was in no way intended to be confrontational but he was eager to open appropriate dialogue between the government and the media, the Chronicle reported.
Stambuli went on to encourage dialogue and greater networking and communication between media houses saying that this would help restore credibility to the profession and ensure that the media played its rightful role as public watchdog.
The minister said he had become aware that some information being published in connection with government had not been properly clarified and verified by the media houses through contact with his office. He indicated that this had the result of tarnishing the image of the press in the country. Stambuli further declared that he had informed all government departments that it was the duty of the Information Ministry to ensure that it caters for needs of the media houses.
- It is the duty of my Ministry to service the media which is my constituency, he added saying that it was important that his ministry and the media have a good working relationship.
Alaudin Osman of Capital FM thanked the minister for the initiative of starting open dialogue between government and the media and hoped that it was the beginning of an ongoing process.
The minister indicated that he felt the exercise was beneficial and that he had plans to hold regular meetings with the press every month.
Source: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)