Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Kondwani Nankhumwa, on Tuesday sought to learn more about operations of the Journalists Union of Malawi (Juma).
During the luncheon, Nankhumwa who was accompanied by principal secretary Chimwemwe Banda said the meeting was one in many familiarisation activities he was conducting with various key stakeholders.
“We recognise that Juma is a big and important player in the media, and that we must learn more about its struvture , operations, and how best we can work together.
“What are Juma challenges, how is its membership base, and what key successes have they achieved?” he told the meeting.
Juma president M’theto Lungu said :”We are mainly focused at the promotion of media labour rights. Juma promotes good working conditions of journalists and takes to account those who abuse media work rights.”
He said Juma looks forward to good and professional working relationship with government through the ministry.
“For instance, we want a proactive and not reactive government when it comes to dealing with journalists. We do not have to demand for answers when the ministry can be open and transparent about certain issues, including reasons behind the careless hiring and firing of media personnel in the civil service and elsewhere,” he said.
“The public wants to know if there are sufficient reasons behind such moves. If the involved were also heard. Every employee has dreams and aspirations and deserve job security,” he added, emphasizing Juma was in the process of rolling out awareness to journalists countrywide on need to establish workplace unions which are a cornerstone to labour rights.
“Only then can we ably scrutinise labour issues and employ services of the legal fund that we wish to establish. Journalists must be empowered to start to bargain on their conditions of service and their monthly take-home.”
PS Banda said it was time that key institutions like Juma approached the Reforms Department of government to address such burning issues. Suffice to say everything that happens in this regard has been within the laws.
“I personally have faced such changes. Please note that those transferred in this manner to other ministries or departments do not looe their benefits to the end of their contracts,” she explained.
Minister Nankhumwa also added that most of the seeming hiring and firing has been constitutional. He also quickly said government was aware that some media houses were paying reporters and managers as low as K20,000 and K30,000 a month.
“This is very sad and pathetic. We will support Juma in its efforts to bring sanity on remunerations and good working conditions.”
Earlier Juma secretary general Charles Mkula had expressed disappointment that many employers did not reward and compensate their employers accordingly. That although the national bread basket is tipped at about K120,000 per month, journalists get paid peanuts.
Quizzed on the government’s reluctance to enact and pass the Access to Information (ATI) bill and Table Mountain Agreement, the ministry explained the ATI has indeed suffered the process and that the Justice drafts team was overwhelmed.
“As a ministry we realise the ATI is important not only to journalists but everybody, and we have pushed for its quick processing. Sometime soonest the Justice ministry has assured us all loopholes have been sealed and it will be tabled. We also have the blessings of the Parliamentary Committee on the Media.
“As for the Table Mountain Agreement President Peter Mutharika said he was in its full support during a meeting with journalists at State House. He is apparently waiting for its copy from Namisa which to date has not been submitted to us,” said Nankhumwa, supported by Banda.
Juma also disclosed it was going to meet media owners and managers alongside Namisa and the Media Council of Malawi, where centre stage will be discussion on remunerations, condistions of service, creation and support of workplace unions, and media ethics.
A 2010 study by Juma board member and media expert Dr. Zeleza Manda which discloses pathetic remunerations and work conditions in the country will be discussed.
The ministry offered its full support to Juma and its ojectives, and promised to be open so that journalists can start to enjoy their career and also earn a better living as was the case in the SADC region and beyond.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :