Malawi: Fake News Worries Minister Mkaka, Urges Nice Trust to Tame It

12 August 2020

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eisenhower Mkaka has expressed worry over the escalation of fake news in the country, saying in wake of Covid-19 pandemic, disinformation will slacken government's efforts to fight it.

He said this on Tuesday at Riverside Hotel in Lilongwe during the opening of a capacity building workshop on Covid-19 and regional integration organized by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Public Trust.

The Trust, wants community radios to act as a vehicle in cascading information on Covid-19 and regional integration to the communities, which, it observes, it intertwines.

Speaking in an interview after opening the workshop, the minister lamented with the increase and the supersonic speed of fake news, saying it is doing the country more harm than good.

"As a country we are worried with the rate at which fake news is spreading, especially now when we have been ravaged by Covid-19 pandemic,"he said.

Mkaka observed that people are sharing interesting but false pieces of information about Covid-19, saying the attitude is hampering government's efforts in promoting preventive measures.

"This behaviour is bad. Fake news has an iota that can make other people believe such information. Therefore, spreading it, means frustrating all the efforts of dealing with the virus as we have done as a country," he pointed out

However, the minister thanked Nice for organizing the workshop, saying it will offer solutions to the problem of fake news due to the involvement of community representatives which, he believes they will tell people the right information.

"I expect you to emphasize on precautionary measures and removing stigma associated with those that have tested positive as this discourages members of the community from volunteering to take Covid-19 tests," he stressed.

In his remarks, Nice Trust Executive Director, OllenMwalubunju said it remains the Trust's quest to achieve goals, one of which is through the engagement of community radios.

"We very much value community radios due to crucial issues in information dissemination in their areas. What they do in civic educating the masses is in tandem with our plans of civic educating people," he said.

He said now that the country is plagued with Covid-19, prompted his organization to rope in the community radios, which he expects will drive home correct information about the pandemic.

"To this effect, we pledge to continue engaging more community radio stations in order to save more Malawians," he committed.

Fake news is "fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent. Fake-news outlets or carriers, in turn, lack the news media's editorial norms and processes for ensuring the accuracy and credibility of information.

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