Despite Malawi gearing for tripartite elections next year, the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) has expressed concern over lack of interest by the media to cover stories bordering on local government polls.
Mesn chairperson Steve Duwa raised the concern on Saturday in Zomba during a day-long media training workshop on local government systems in Malawi.
“It has come to our observation that the media is largely concentrating on the presidential and parliamentary polls. These two are being heavily covered. But little, if not nothing, is being covered on local polls. You rarely hear or read about aspiring councillors in the media. It is all about presidential and parliamentary hopefuls,” he said.
He added that if the scenario remains unchecked, it will have grave consequences on voters.
“Our fear is that without this hype, we will end up having few aspiring councillors and again, electorates shunning voting for ward councillors,” he said.
Misa-Malawi chairperson Anthony Kasunda concurred with Duwa, adding that the challenge is that the ‘councillor’ story is difficult to sell to the editors.
“As journalists, we should try to work extra harder to pitch the councillor story so that it meets the editorial demands of news. If we fall back, we will do a great disservice to the country,” he said.
Chancellor College local governance expert Asiyatu Chiweza challenged journalists to help stir public debate on local government in the country.
“There is a lot that needs to reorganised for councilors to be effective; otherwise, if the situation remains unchanged, there will be a lot of conflicts between councillors, MPs and technocrats at local councils,” she said.