Malawi Electoral Commission appreciates media role in mobilizing people for high voter turnout

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says appreciates the media as a critical stakeholder in building an informed electorate and also mobilizing people for high voter turnout.

Ansah: Malawi Electoral Commission want a conducive, electoral environment to delivering free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible elections for 2019

MEC Chairperson, Dr Jane Ansah said the remarks on Thursday in Lilongwe during the opening of Validation Workshop for the Media Code of Conduct on reporting elections, saying the media have a duty to inform and educate the electorate.

The media workshop was conducted under the theme, ‘Responsible Media, a Catalyst for Credible Election’ which was randomly chosen but the Commission considered the critical role the media plays in all aspects of elections.

She said media practitioners with their investigative skills, could help in checking the existence of any fraud or malpractice not in conformance with the law.

By exposing such ills, the media also greatly contribute towards a free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive election.

“The theme is also building on the experiences that have occurred in other countries where the media had aborted its responsibility and started perpetrating violence, hatred, tribalism, ethnicity, extremism, among other social ills,” she explained.

Ansah cited the violence in Kenya in 2002 and the 1994 Rwandan genocide which she said immediately come as classical examples where the media had contributed to national disturbance saying that journalists have answered charges and some have even been jailed.

She therefore thanked the media houses in the country for the wonderful job that they have been doing related to elections.

“The Commission has been part of the history of this nation. It has witnessed the changes in the media industry, especially the increase in the number of radio stations to the extent that we now have over 60 broadcasting licensees.

“The increase in the number of players calls for corresponding efforts in regulating the media to ensure that all media houses remain professional and do not abuse their privileges and rights,” she said.

Ansah said the review of the Media Code of Conduct offers an opportunity to reflect on the experience of 2014 and, together, agree on how they can move forward.

Participants and the commission had the opportunity to fill some gaps identified in 2014 and even propose the removal of some sections from the Code of Conduct that might not be relevant with the dynamics of today.

She added that it is the wish of the Malawi Electoral Commission for a conducive, electoral environment to delivering free, fair, transparent, inclusive and credible elections for 2019.

An environment where stakeholders freely operate in accordance with the law and democratic principles; an environment that allows the media to report with a view to educate and inform the public without fear or favour and in a non-partisan manner.

She further said that in a bid to achieve these aspirations, this is why the Commission has brought together all the media houses existing in the country to discuss this Media Code of Conduct.

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