MEC, MACRA meet on coverage of 2019 elections TO STRENGTHEN PROFESSIONAL COVERAGE OF 2019 TRIPARTITE ELECTIONS

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on 19th September 2017 held a meeting with the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to share notes and ideas on how the two organisations can collaborate to ensure a level media play field ahead of 2019 Tripartite Elections.

Among the things that were discussed during the meeting was the resuscitation of the Broadcast Complaints Committee which handles broadcast complaints presented to the Committee. This committee was established in 2013 as the country was preparing for the 2014 tripartite elections.

In his remarks, MEC Media, Civic and Voter Education Committee Chairperson, Commissioner Moffat Banda emphasized the need for the two organizations to work together to achieve the expectations of the nation to have a credible election where all contesting parties and candidates are given equal media coverage.

“The Commission is determined to deliver a credible tripartite election that will be a model to other countries. But this is not the sole responsibility of the Commission, there are many stakeholders whose roles are also crucial and these include the media and MACRA,” said Banda.

He also mentioned that the Commission had started carrying out some of the activities that are on the 2019 Tripartite Elections calendar.

“You may wish to know that the Commission embarked on the accreditation of civic education providers, we also reviewed the civic and voter education manual, reviewed and realigned boundaries of wards and constituencies. Currently we are in the process of reviewing the media code of conduct for reporting elections” Banda said.

On its part MACRA’s Acting Legal Director, Dan Chiwoni stressed the importance of involving the media in the coverage of elections.

He said that MACRA was geared to ensure that the media reported elections in a professional manner and that all media houses would adhere to the broadcasting code of conduct.

“As MACRA we continuously monitor broadcasting houses in the country to ensure that they are adhering to the code of conduct for broadcasters which they are given when a broadcasting license has been issued to them. For the 2019 elections we want to ensure that all broadcasters are adhering to it and penalties will be given to them where necessary”, said Chiwoni.

MACRA also mentioned the plans it has lined for 2019 elections which include training media personnel, recruitment of stringers and intensifying monitoring of broadcasting houses.

Apart from MACRA the Commission’s Media, Civic and Voter Education Committee will visit all the media houses that are operating in the country to outline the plans they have for the 2019 TPE and also to hear from them their plans for the elections.