The High Court in Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre on Sunday October 19, granted the closed private broadcaster Joy Radio an injunction, stopping the revocation of its licence by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA).
Following the court order, at exactly, 1430 hours the Radio Station returned on air registering a two and half hour blackout.
Lawyer for the radio, Ralph Kasambara said he applied for the court’s consideration on the decision by MACRA.
The regulatory body argued that the radio breached terms of its licence by among other things transferring ownership to politicians, which is contrary to the Communications Act.
Documentation at MACRA shows that Joy Radio Station first registered under the ownership of Multi Media Communications Property Limited and Rashid Nembo, a businessperson and a politician who is an executive member of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party.
Multi Media Communications Property Limited was first incorporated in Lesotho before in was also incorporated in Malawi on April 8, 2002. On June 11, 2002, it became a shareholder in Joy Radio Limited.
MACRA Director of Broadcasting James Chimera argues that ownership of Joy Radio Station, which was granted licence on April 1, 2002, has now changed hands to Atupele Properties, which is owned by former President Dr. Bakili Muluzi who is fighting for a come back as he intends to stand in the next year’s presidential elections.
Section 48, sub-section 7 of the Communications Act says, “No broadcasting licence shall be issued to any association, party, movement, organization, body or alliance which is of a party-political nature”.
Kasambara said since Atupele Properties is co-owned by Dr. Muluzi and his former wife Anne at 50-50 stake, the company is not political.
The court has since given MACRA seven days to justify its decision.