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Taskforce dates media on electoral reforms

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The National Task force on Electoral Reforms on Thursday engaged media practitioners and regulatory bodies to enable them contribute to the reforms.

The meeting, which took place in Blantyre, attracted representatives of various organisations in the taskforce and media organisations.

Speaking at the meeting, co-chairperson for the taskforce, Malawi Electoral Commissioner Emmanuel Chinkwita Phiri, said the media practitioners need to be involved in the electoral reform process as they play a critical information and education role.

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Chinkwita-Phiri said the media has a duty to ensure credible and transparent elections.

“Media is not just about reporting. Media is an institution and when you are talking about electoral reforms they are part and parcel of the reforms … we want them to contribute so that we can take them on board,” Chinkwita-Phiri said.

National Editors Forum Chairperson, Cliff Kawanga, who also represented Misa Malawi, in an interview commended the task force for involving the media practitioners on electoral reforms.

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“It was an important exercise considering the fact that the media played an important role in the 2014 tripartite elections including working closely with Mec in the validation of the media code of conduct.

“Although others have suggested that the media should be regulated regarding their conduct during elections, I believe there should be thorough consultations using existing media bodies which are capable of regulating themselves,” Kawanga said.

One of the participants, Blantyre Synod News Editor, Aubrey Kusakala, said the media practitioners are always involved and it is important for the stakeholders to recognise their importance in the electoral process.

“If the media is not involved you always find that there are problems associated with electoral process in a country. The media practitioners ensure that people get election-related information in time. But some of the electoral stakeholders ignore the media forgetting that they also have something to offer in as far as electoral issues are concerned,” Kusakala said.

The National Task force on Electoral Reforms was formed in October 2014 after the electoral stakeholders realised the need for reforms. Mec and Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) are co-chairing the taskforce. The other members are Ministry of Justice, Malawi Law Commission, National Initiative for Civic Education, United Nations Development Programme, Public Affairs Committee, National Democratic Institute and Centre for Multiparty Democracy.

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