24 August 2017

Malawi: Seodi Kicks Out Journalists At Malawi Reforms Conference Over Bad Headlines - Activists Say Act Against Spirit of Transparency and Accountability

Photo: Daily Monitor
(File photo).

Journalists were thrown out of then-going sectoral conference on the implementation of Public Service Reforms Programmes at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe by Reforms chief director Seodi White claiming there has been bad headlines.

Local newspapers have been critical of the reforms, saying government claims of a success story is "not adding up".

And White conceeded that reforms were a flop in some sectors but said they were generally on track, adding that many departments and agencies (MDA) were working day and night to ensure that President Peter Mutharika's vision of an effective, efficient and professional public service is realised.

But following critical comments from the private owned newspapers, White ordered on Wednesday that journalists should not cover the conference and they were ordered out of Viphya Conference Hall at Capital Hotel, Lilongwe, where the meeting had been taking place.

Furious White accused the media of "negative" publicity over reforms.

But governance and human rights activists condemned the move to bar reporters from covering the conference, with Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence wondering why government is " hiding information to Malawians."

Social commentator Undule Mwakasungula, who has of late been having a soft spot with government on matters of human rights, also faulted the move to block journalists from covering a meeting that was called to share experiences, success stories and challenges faced in the implementation of the programme as "unfortunate."

The reforms were moved to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) from direct supervision of Vice-President Saulos Chilima.

In its exit report released early this year, the disbanded Chilima-chaired commission observed that there is "a need for comprehensive transformation, addressing issues not only in the public service, but also the issues of ethics, values and responsibility in the whole of society."

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