Introduction

SAEF’s mission to Malawi to observe media conduct during elections and report on it was the organisation’s first major project since four of the five targeted forums were revived in 2013 with funding from OSISA.

June 19th, 2014

SAEF’s mission to Malawi to observe media conduct during elections and report on it was the organisation’s first major project since four of the five targeted forums were revived in 2013 with funding from OSISA.

The revived forums are the Lesotho Editors’ Forum, Malawi Editors’ Forum, Swaziland Editors’ Forum and SAEF Zambia Chapter bringing the total of functional forums to eight including forums in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, with the last two having solid foundations since SAEF’s inception in 2003, and beyond that in the case of the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF). A forum is as yet to be set up in Angola while a unified one is sought in Zimbabwe where two editors’ forums exist, one catering for state media and the other for private media, exacerbating the current polarisation of media.

The project seeks to promote equitable and ethical journalism in the coverage of elections which remain contentious in the region, and right across the African continent. It also seeks to advocate the turning of state broadcasters into public broadcasters and to inform future journalism training programmes on reporting elections.

Initially a nine-person mission, eight editors and the SAEF executive director, was to have travelled to Zimbabwe last year to observe the elections in that country held on 31 July 2013. The trip was in the end aborted due to difficulties in obtaining accreditation. Almost all editors nominated for the Zimbabwe mission in 2013 were on the Malawi mission except for the Malawi editor whose country was holding the elections and the Zambian editor who was replaced by newly elected SG of SAEF Zambia. The Namibian editor failed to travel. Thus, the SAEF mission to Malawi was a seven-person mission comprising six editors and the SAEF director.

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