istory will
2014 as a
moment of
triumph for
the Malawi
media. The
country held its first ever Tripartite Elections, featuring the traditional conflict
between the State, its opposition and
the media. However, for this first time
in the country’s history, the Malawi
Electoral Commission (MEC) included
presidential debates in the electoral calendar. The debates were championed
and coordinated by the Media Institute
of Southern Africa’s Malawi Chapter
(MISA Malawi) with support from the
Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and provided an open platform for critical discussion on matters
of public interest between presidential
candidates and voters. The debates also
ushered in an era of active citizen participation in the democratic process and
cast the spotlight on issues rather than

The country witnessed
another milestone with
the adoption of the
Access to Information
Policy by cabinet on
27 January 2014.
Another landmark for the country’s
media and democracy generally was

a marked move by state media during
the elections to programming based
on public interest and professionalism
rather than political whims. Malawi
Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has
over the years gained a reputation for
being a mouth-piece of the ruling party,
with over 99 percent content in favour
of the state. Much as MBC’s content still
favoured then incumbent Joyce Banda
and her People’s Party (PP), the broadcaster moved away from issuing pure
propaganda for the ruling party to providing a platform for critical debate and
dialogue on matters of national interest. MBC proved most critics wrong by
broadcasting all the presidential debates
live, despite incumbent Joyce Banda’s
refusal to participate in the debates.
On the policy front, the country witnessed another milestone with the
adoption of the Access to Information
(ATI) Policy by cabinet on 27 January
2014. Adoption of the ATI Policy closed
a chapter that started in 2009 when government indicated the country could not
move forward in enacting ATI legislation
without an enabling policy on the same.
The ATI Policy provides a framework for
enacting and implementing the ATI Bill.
Although the country did not witness
any new media outlet on the market, the
sector continued to grow in strength by
speaking with one voice on matters of
national interest.
The media continued to comment on
the country’s worst looting of public
funds, popularly known as ‘cashgate’,
and the need to demonstrate political
will in concluding the cases. The media
also came out strongly on government
and the MEC to provide people with information during the electoral impasse.
The media proved to be instrumental
and gained the confidence of the people
as a source of critical information at a

So This is Democracy? 2014


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