Recommendations

Based on the findings and interviews carried out during its eight day visit to Malawi, the SAEF mission would like to recommend as follows:

MAEF

June 19th, 2014

Based on the findings and interviews carried out during its eight day visit to Malawi, the SAEF mission would like to recommend as follows:

MAEF

  • MAEF should carry out a post-mortem of media coverage during the 2014 tripartite elections with a view to correct mistakes and lobby for the amendment of legislations that impede media practice.
  • Editors must begin the process of funding their reporters to cover events outside their stations with their own resources to stem any form of dependency on political and business sources in line with the known professional and ethical requirements. Alternatively MAEF should pool resources to help all media houses to send their reporters to the remote areas.
  • The forum should embark on a wide advocacy campaign to have the MBC turned into a public broadcaster instead of the current status quo of a state broadcaster to promote neutrality, fairness in its reporting.
  • Any training specifically tailored for election coverage should start a year or two before each national election and not just weeks or months before and this should include editors and reporters.
  • Media heads must allow journalists to do their job professionally and not be influenced by the so-called editorial policies that favour certain political parties and groupings. The Malawi Editors’ Forum and other journalists’ organisations should be encouraged to set up training programmes for their staff and promote the principles of ethical conduct and fair, accurate and balanced coverage of election news and party political manifestos.

Government and MEC

  • The MEC in future elections should consult with the media about the processes it intends to follow and arrive at an agreement at such issues as bans on the conducting of election campaigns within 48 hours of the start of the elections. Although the campaign ban on political parties and candidates is per the amended Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act of 1993, it impinges on the constitutional right of freedom of the press/media.
  • The commission should undertake to supply the fullest information about the state of preparedness and other issues relating to the elections.
  • Government and MEC should desist from banning media from carrying out its mandate of informing the public on the election processes, whether positive or negative.
  • MEC should allow media to announce provisional results as long as these are confirmed by polling officers and media are present at polling stations where counting is taking place. The MBC and Zodiak were at first designated as the official media to announce provisional results but the MEC later unilaterally imposed a ban on all media from making the announcements.
  • MACRA should enforce Section 48(7) of the Malawi Communications Act, Act 41 of 1998 which makes it illegal for politicians or political parties or organisations to own radio stations.

Contacts

  • 1 Hood Avenue/148 Jan Smuts; Rosebank, GP 2196; South Africa
  • T. +27 (0)11 587 5000
  • F. +27 (0)11 587 5099