STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2014
The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), through the Malawi Election Information Centre (MEIC), has launched a campaign called Citizen Journalism to motivate citizens to effectively participate in the May 20, 2014 Tripartite Elections by reporting on electoral incidents happening in their respective communities. All reported incidences will be shared with relevant authorities for immediate action and redress if need be.
Citizen Journalism is a concept coined to describe citizen participation in matters that affect their daily lives by sharing stories and experiences on issues happening in their respective communities.
Among others, the campaign aims to:
.Raise citizen awareness on the importance of active citizen participation in the electoral process
.Raise awareness on the need to vote
.Sensitize citizens on their role in publicizing electoral incidents taking place in their communities
The launch, which took place at Namame Catholic grounds in Blantyre City South East Constituency on Wednesday, May 13, will run till polling day on May 20 and targets all citizens of voting age – both men and women as well as decision makers, media and community based none governmental organizations.
Among other strategies, the campaign involves road shows and face to face interactions with citizens in randomly selected constituencies across the country. Some of the constituencies selected for the road shows include: Mzimba South, Rumphi Central, Nkhatabay South, Blantyre Rural East, Thyolo South, Nsanje Central, Chikwawa Central, Zomba Malosa, Machinga Central, Mangochi South East, Lilongwe South, Dedza North, Ntcheu Central and Kasungu South East.
All citizens are encouraged to participate in the electoral process by taking part in deciding the future of Malawi and sharing their experiences using mobile phones by simply sending an sms to 58683. The sms is for free and applies to both TNM and Airtel.
This is the first time in the history of the country that citizens are being encouraged to participate in the electoral process by reporting electoral incidence’s in their respective communities. Citizens are encouraged to indicate their location and time when sending the text.
The system is secure and will help citizens and communities have their concerns addressed immediately. The system does not capture details of the sender e.g contact number or name and all the text messages will be analyzed and captured on a Citizen Journalism Platform to inform any strategic interventions to do with the elections.
The Campaign has been made possible with support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), and Hivos.
Malawi Electoral Support Network and Malawi Election Information Centre Chairperson