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DURING THE CLOSING OF
BUILDING RESOURCES IN DEMOCRACY GOVERNANCE AND ELECTIONS (BRIDGE) FOR MEDIA MANAGERS
17TH MAY, 2013 SHIRE HIGHLANDS HOTEL, BLANTYRE
SALUTATIONS Our Lead Facilitator, Mr Wellington Katantha Facilitators
Distinguished Participants Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my great pleasure and privilege to make a few remarks before we all go back home rich with basic but critical information on media and elections. I have no doubt that the five days we have been here have been well-spent and you have no regrets having come to attend this training. I should say that as a Commission we don’t take your presence and participation in this training for granted. It shows the great commitment you have to the activities of the Commission. It is not an easy thing to bring together 25 media managers for a week. You are busy persons with many things waiting for your attention. May I, therefore, commend you for availing yourselves for this training.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Malawi Electoral Commission is geared to deliver a credible Tripartite Election in 2014 but we will need your support. As media you have a crucial role of informing and educating the public. The stories you write and the programmes you broadcast are read or listened to by many people across the nation, which make you a very crucial partner in spreading electoral messages. Taking into consideration this pivotal role you can play, that is why the Commission thought of having this training so that you are given the knowledge and information that will make you perform effectively and better than before.
As media managers you have the responsibility to ensure that what is being published or broadcast does not promote hatred, tribalism, public disorder, hostility, violence, aggression, unrest, conflict or anything of this nature. Elections are an emotive process especially during campaign there are always statements made during political rallies. You need to be cautious and sensitive to conflict in your reporting. You also have to ensure that you observe media ethics by balancing up news articles. Where you have an issue and you are in doubt, you are free to consult the Commission.
Ladies and gentlemen, the elections coming ahead of us provide an opportunity to put into practice what has been learnt this week and that is the aim of the Commission. It would not be of benefit to the Commission, your media houses and you, as participants, if you go back and sit on the knowledge and information that has been imparted here. We would appreciate if you go back home and share with colleagues so that there will be a trickle down effects of this training. There are many journalists from the media houses we are coming from who will be reporting on electoral issues but resources are not permitting that we can train all of them and that is more of the reason why we targeted media managers. You, being media managers you act as gatekeepers as to what is published or broadcast and you also mentor those who report to you. This is what made you a strategic group to participate in this training.
As you are aware elections are just 12 months away and that soon we will start registration of voters. Mobilisation of citizens to come and register so that they will be able to vote is of paramount importance. I, therefore, urge you to use your initiatives to spread electoral registration messages. Most radio stations have generic programmes which enjoy good listenership and if you can mainstream registration messages in them, you can make a very big impact. As announcers interact with the listeners they can take a few seconds just to remind the audience on the importance of going to register. On its part, the Commission will be provide talking notes to guide the announcers so that what they speak should be correct. We urge you to use every available opportunity to spread messages about elections targeting every stage of the electoral process.
Ladies and Gentlemen, now that it is certain that the amendment bills for the harmonization of electoral laws will be presented in Parliament, I urge the media to follow the process with keen interest. You have a key responsibility to inform the public about the amendments in a timely manner so that they are aware in good time as to how the elections will be conducted.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to thank the facilitators led by Mr Wellington Katantha for a job wonderfully done. It is a challenge to do facilitation of BRIDGE because the approach is that of adult learning. They have done a very
good job and let’s give them a big hand. I would also urge you distinguished participants to take full use of the facilitators. The five days we have been here are not enough to cover everything. Wherever, you have an issue that you need help on, you can contact them and I am very sure that they will be more than willing to assist you. Our interactions should not end with the end of this training, but they should start here and continue as we go back to our workplaces.
I would like to thank the European Union who have provided financial support under the Democratic Governance Programme for us to hold this workshop. The European Union has been a very good partner and have supported several preparatory activities by the Commission for the 2014 Tripartite Elections and we cherish that.
I also would like to thank management and staff of this hotel for hosting us.
It is now my hounor and privilege Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, to declare this BRIDGE Course on Civic and Voter Education closed.
I wish each one of you a nice and safe trip back home and duty stations
Thank you very much
May God bless you all