The choice of who becomes the next MISA Chairperson, has now turned into the basic instinct of survival of the independent and strong media in Malawi, which all Journalists have worked hard to protect and nurture since the return of multiparty democracy in 1994.
The intrusion by second hand, demonization of Teresa Temweka Ndanga and her two lieutenants Clifton Kawanga who is gunning for Vice Chairperson and Mandy Potani who is expected to automatically become the next Executive Member for MISA representing the Northern Region. She is the only one from the region, and MISA constitution is clear on regional balance.
Teresa, the fearless journalist and who is turning to become the Iron Lady of Malawi media, has sent shock waves, exciting the majority of upcoming journalists, getting endorsed by high profile names of Malawi media from Mabvuto Banda to Wadza Ottoman. From Chisomo Mwamadi to Victor Kaonga- she has the confidence and support of all Journalists. This is where the challenge begins. Someone needs members who after scrutiny cannot be traced or attached to any institution to take over the running of MISA. It is such a notion, that Team TCM (Teresa, Cliff and Mandy) rejected on May 6, 2017.
The Harvard decorated journalist with over 10 media awards including the CNN and named by MISA in 2015 among 10 women to watch, currently is a Director of News at the MISA Broadcaster of the year Zodiak Station. Her impeccable credentials make her the darling of the real media practitioners and aspiring journalists.
The question has been, what does Teresa and her TCM stand for. The manifesto is very clear on the journey that is expected to restore and protect Malawi press freedom and guarantee quality journalism in the next three years. The TCM overall manifesto can be summarized into nine core areas which were developed after extensive consultation with journalists, from community radios to national media bodies.
Her manifesto pledge is “I am running for MISA Malawi’s Chairpersonship to make my humble contribution towards reinvigorating the journalism industry in Malawi. I run to lead and instill confidence in all journalists and other media practitioners in Malawi that together we achieve a robust and self –sustainable media landscape that strives for equality in the treatment of its members, seek to be responsive to the identifiable gaps and innovative by employing non-traditional means of sourcing financing.”
The manifesto areas include:
1. Access to Information: Operationalise the Access to Information Act that not only media, but Malawians at large can use as an instrument of accountability in entrenching the nation’s democratic values. This includes to protect journalists from arbitrary arrests and intimidation- by reviving the Journalists Litigation Fund that will support journalists facing legal challenges as they discharge their duties. The manifesto also pledges to expand skills in fact checking and investigative capacity of Malawi media.
2. Uphold and Defend freedom of expression: The core role of media as a fourth estate in a democracy in to uphold and promote free thought, speech and opinion and human rights for all. MISA under Teresa, will work in this field by promoting professional journalism, citizen journalism and ensure as Malawi runs towards general elections, the basic right to expressoneself is not lost or abused by anyone.
Free expression is our birthright, protected by the Malawi Constitution. However, the happenings of the past few months point to a situation where we are no longer guaranteed of this birthright. Although arbitrary arrests have decreased, we are not being spared from harassment and threats of legal action to mute us from exposing political, economic and social ills by our leaders.
3. Influence policy and other anti-media issues: MISA, under Teresa will continue to lobby for an independent and free national broadcaster-MBC to allow full and professional utilization of media personnel at MBC many of whom are great professionals. MISA will also target anti-media laws in advocacy to have them repealed.
4. Promotion of media diversity: With close to 80 radio stations and TVs, Teresa pledges capacity building and transfer of professional skills between established and community media institutions. MISA will work to have a special grants project to promote specialized reporting and capacity support for specialized media outlets to achieve and grow their objectives.
The MISA under Teresa will lobby for tax free statues for TV and radios and scrapping of VAT on newspapers, as they provide a social education service to a nation, which has limited educational systems especially for rural communities.
5. Building capacity for Malawi media: The media landscape is fast changing, Teresa pledges to champion training in new media including writing for the web, twitter reporting, blogging, podcasting and adoption of technology in news dissemination by all media bodies. A mentorship programme will be launched for the same and specialized awards for community based media will be launched.
6. Partnership for development: The MISA Teresa intends to lead will become a bridging centre for various partners to createa win-win situation for all Malawians in terms of transformation of media industry and dissemination of information. She pledges to boost capacity at secretariat of MISA and increase cooperation with specialized media groups, Unions and press clubs and link them with various partners to deliver programmes that will benefit media in Malawi. The new MISA leadership will go for constructive engagement with government and other stakeholders in case of disagreements or issues with potential to cause disagreement.
7. Growing and developing new generation of journalists: Teresa will build new platforms to link and ensure growth of community radios, development of student journalists and provide school-to-work transition for aspiring journalists. This will include introduction of a lower tier membership category of students of journalism.
The National Conference of Malawi Journalism will be launched as an annual programme to focus on media growth, and other professional bodies such as Public Relations Society, media training institutions and others will have a defined and greater roles in harmonizing the media industry.
8. Improving welfare of media practitioners: The MISA Teresa intends to lead will work closely with Unions such as JUMA and COWUMA on lobbying for better working conditions. Make a case for proper remuneration and agreements over coverages expenses with stakeholders.
Under Teresa’s leadership MISA will develop a MEDIA Cooperative and Credit Union.
9. Fundraising: TCM manifesto recognizes that MISA Malawi does not have any funding from the regional office and local fundraising is paramount to achieving the core objectives of protecting and developing Malawi media. Teresa intends to establish a specialized fundraising team and a Malawi Media Club which will be main channels of ensuring that MISA has adequate resources to develop and implement its programs.
#Journalismfirst is a call for recommitment to the values and tenets of journalism. It is a call for re-dedication in solving the challenges Malawi’s media industry faces today. Team TCM stands for Journalism that will entrench and grow Malawi democracy. TCM does not owe any allegiance to anybody but media practitioners. TCM proudly stands as a collective body of media, from Karonga, Likoma, Nkhatabay, Mzimba, Mchinji, Zomba, Balaka, Salima, Dedza, Mangochi, Nkhotakota to all other cities. The support for TCM comes from Journalists themselves- proudly christened JournalismFirst!
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