Malawi Congress Party mouthpiece Times Group is tired of hiding its political colours. It has now come out very clearly, bashing opposition People's Party MPs over the failure of 50+1.
In its main story in one of its papers Malawi News, Times has called MPs Kamlepo Kalua, Ralph Jooma and Malani Mtonga as SELLOUTS for being absent from Parliament during the tabling of the 50+1 bill.
The bill was voted against by 100 MPs such that even the few PP MPs had voted on the side of the 59 that voted for the bill, it would still have collapsed. The bill got defeated in Parliament on Friday and Times has taken it personally and unkindly.
It has gotten very angry on behalf of its paymaster MCP. It wanted every opposition MP to act not according to their conscience just to plead its MCP.
In fact, throughout the 50+1 debacle, the media house has been the voice of MCP and PAC and their regime change agenda. Why is this so?
Management and owners of the debt-ridden media group believe that once MCP assumes power, they will go scot-free on the more than K1 billion they owe Malawi Revenue Authority in taxes. Hence the campaign. PAC and MCP thought the 50+1 bill would effectively give them their long cherished wish of regime change. That has failed, leaving MCP, PAC and Times with very bloody noses. Times has not been ashamed of its MCP mouthpiece status as when PAC announced they had cancelled the demonstrations that were meant to press the government to table the bill, the media house was so bitter they faulted PAC in their lead story.
To build up the story, they sought the views of an analyst Emily Mkamanga who has never had a kind word for the DPP Government in her life. Times needed someone who could speak what they wanted to hear. That is not journalism.
Times deliberately avoided talking to balanced analysts, so while while they faulted PAC, their colleagues at The Nation carried a balanced story that applauded PAC for cancelling the demonstrations.
The collapse of the bill in Parliament is so bitter a pill for Managing Editor George Kasakula and his bosses and fellow MCP member. Kasakula is a well known member of MCP. On three occasions he has failed in the primaries to be the party's Parliamentary candidate in Kasungu.
Managing Director Lenard Chikadya employed Kasakula to do MCP bidding at the media house. He has successfully turned the once professional paper into what it used to be in the pre-multi-party era as an MCP media outlet.
Reporters have been quitting enmasse as Kasakula has been bullying them for opting to report professionally. Where newsrooms are professional, individual political affiliations are not a crime but they are not allowed to colour your reporting.
At Times, it is a crime to not being MCP and not reporting as such. Anything positive about the government and anything that is not pro-MCP results in reporters being warned and dismissed. That's the Kasakula rulebook of journalism. To aid in driving professional standards further down, Times is increasingly having its lead stories written by writers it cannot name in the byline.
Until Kasakula came, it was inconceivable for a lead story to have TIMES REPORTER as byline. The stories are half-baked, unbalanced, full of lies and largely propaganda pieces no reporter worth the name would want to be associated with them. Yet while its MCP PR agenda is failing to stick, its sales are taking a huge hit as people no longer trust the paper.
For instance, according to sources at the company's headquarters in Blantyre, the paper is now selling a miserable 12 copies daily in Kasungu and the numbers are also fast dwindling in Lilongwe, a vendor said. Ironically, Kasungu is where the owners of the paper come from. Kasungu and Lilongwe are also said to be the hotbed of MCP.