MalawiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s High Court has ordered the government to put the former presidentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s radio station back on air, a few days after its license was revoked, writes Samuel Makaka.
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) closed down Joy Radio permanently. The station is owned by former president Bakili Muluzi.
Zadziko Mankhambo, MACRAÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s spokesperson said the MACRA Board resolved to revoke Joy RadioÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s license after the station failed to resolve a number of broadcasting violations despite being warned several times to do so. The station was accused of flouting broadcasting regulations.
However, the radio managed to get a court injunction against its closure two days after the station was taken off air. MACRA has indicated its intention to challenge the courtÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s decision. Mankhambo, said in an interview that one of the broadcasting violations that prompted MACRA to revoke the license was that the station had handed over its control to a politician and yet the countryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s broadcasting laws prohibit politicians or political groups to control or own a radio station.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe are back on air following the injuction,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Mavuto Chapuma, head of technical services at Joy Radio, told local journalists after the court ruling. Joy Radio, which has openly been critical of the administration of President Bingu wa Mutharika, has had several open confrontations with the current government, and it has appeared before MACRA several times over the issue.
The radio station is wholly owned by Muluzi, who is the leader of the former ruling United Democratic Front and the partyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s nominated presidential candidate for the countryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s forthcoming presidential elections in May 2009.