Cultural traditions limit freedom of expression. Most Malawians
are deeply rooted in the beliefs of their fathers and forefathers.
And they see themselves as a God-fearing people. This makes them
strive to be “morally correct” at all times for fear of promoting
“cultural decadence”.
Due to these sentiments many Malawians do not appreciate special
forms of expression such as humour or satire which are met with
Since the demise of the former dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda
in 1997, society in Malawi has been polarised along party political
lines. Many citizens fear being branded as being aligned to a certain
political party simply for expressing critical views. Prior to the 2004
general elections it was “unfashionable” to be labeled a supporter
of Banda’s former party Malawi Congress Party (MCP). Since then
alignment with the United Democratic Front (UDF) – the party of
Banda’s successor Bakili Muluzi – is seen as damaging in many circles. Being labeled could mean losing political patronage.
This goes for the media in particular. They exercise self-censorship
for fear of a political backlash. Commercial considerations also lead
to self-censorship: Unfavourable stories on certain companies are
not published for fear of losing advertising.
When writing letters to the editor or participating in radio talk
shows, people sometimes protect themselves by using pseudonyms
or withholding their identities.
Individual scores:

2, 3, 4, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 2, 2

Average score:


African Media Barometer - Malawi 2006


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