Southern Region Vice President for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Kondwani Nankhumwa has assured journalists in the country that government would continue to promote media freedom in a bid to exercise freedom of speech and expression in their professional pursuit.
Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, gave the assurance on Tuesday during a political rally held at Mpemba Trading Centre in Blantyre.
He said government remains committed to the safety of journalists and no assault on journalists could be tolerated, saying the DPP leadership would take all preventive and deterrent action as required to protect journalists in the country.
“Let me assure journalists in the country that the current administration will continue to ensure that a peaceful environment prevails for media houses and their journalists, and I would urge the media to work within their professional framework,” Nankhumwa said.
“We realize the importance of a vibrant media as a catalyst for socio-economic development. We will ensure that freedom of the press is guaranteed and granted at all times,” he said, adding that for the country to develop meaningfully there was need for a vibrant and responsible media.
Nankhumwa said all journalists were free to cover DPP political rallies and could not be harassed in anyway. He then warned DDP supporters to avoid violence in political rallies.
“As long as I am the Vice President for the DPP in the South, the tendency of harassing journalists will not be given any room,” he said.
“Whenever elections are closer, there are always some pockets of violence in political rallies and I am substantially increasing security to avoid violence in different political gatherings,” he added.
“We will avoid use of force, human lives are more precious for the government and I urge all sides to refrain from violence, exercise restraint and respect the rule of law. The DPP – led administration will ensure that constitutional rights to free press and freedom of expression are protected at all times,” he emphasised.
The rally in Mpemba was among the few which Nankhumwa has been conducting few weeks after being elected as Vice President for the party during the DPP convention held in Blantyre in July this year.