When Minister of Information Henry Mussa toured Malawi Broadcasting Corporation(MBC) and came up with the familiar yet illusory call for the state broadcaster to open up to the opposition, I remembered a tale I told before.
MBC middle managers have some fantastic benefits compared to some hardworking middle managers or some on their rank and with equal qualification working in the same field elsewhere.
Unlike in other media institutions where you have to toil years on end—or be extremely gifted to get recognition, it only takes a shift of the tide at MBC for one to rise above the professional ladder and earn some respectable position.
I know some certified and celebrated dunderheads that have fast risen at MBC for the mere reason that they toe the line of the party that is in government at that particular time. Looking at them and their simmering pomposity, one would be excused to think they are the best thing that has ever happened to journalism.
It is not like I am trying to claim that here, on the “fair” side of the journalism divide; there are the best, honest and clean professionals: There are some bad apples that need to be uprooted as quickly as we can for the best of this country.
But the exercise of removing the rotten fish from the proverbial basket is far simpler in the private media than it is from MBC. And MBC I mean both radio and television, and starting from the highest office to the lowest.
I know of some brilliant guys that have and still are working for this grand institution and how much their efforts and hard work have been frustrated by political alignment and the need-to-be-politically-correct. And I know of some whose political jingoism have earned them some good positions and the attendant happy life.
Reading through, it is clear that you do not need to be any brighter to become a superstar at MBC. It only takes your political affiliation to get you up there.
I know tens of people will frown at my line of thinking and quickly wave it off as a fallacy of hasty generalisation. But those, I can excuse, will be from the honest club of people who have a decent education and have sailed through the rough professional turbulence to the top or any other rank.
Sadly, these have shied away from challenging the blatant stupidity that is being celebrated at MBC these days. Perhaps to be raw, MBC has been a politically boring broadcaster since it was established. I know we have had the entertaining and religious smoothing of Kapalepale, Morning Basket, Nzeru Nkupangwa, Zimachitika, Pamajiga, Chorus for Sunday and the like. Until now, MBC has only been relevant for its documentary programmes which, ironically, are produced by professionals who are shoved to the professional peripheral for one reason or the other. They call it Guantanamo Bay—an eponymous reference to the detested jail in America—and a slighting of the development unit of the station.
MBC’s Director General— much as I know is just a political figurehead just as his directors are —must hang his head in shame for all the blatant display of bias that has become the hallmark of the station.
There is an irritating ad on MBC that wants to tell us that the station is a broadcaster that reaches out to the world while others reach out to their families and loved ones. I can easily say that MBC is a community radio that only broadcasts what its blue villagers prefer.
In the past, I used to be sympathetic with heads of institutions that lose their jobs when a new political wave hits. I no longer do. These days, particularly with the brazen show of political affiliation, I will never shed a tear or voice my concern when the MBC Board and all its directors are fired if regimes change in 2019. The only reason is that I am tired of being fed such lies.