28 March 2014

Malawi: Campaigning Political Parties Free to Use MBC Radio, Television - Ll DC

All political parties in the country have the right to have the substance of their campaign propaganda reported on the public television and radio, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), and in any newspaper in circulation.

Lilongwe District Commissioner (DC), Charles Kalemba, said this at an Anti-Political Violence Meeting held at Lilongwe Regional Police Station organized by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in conjunction with the Malawi Police Service (MPS).

Kalemba said according to MEC's Campaigning Procedures to Conduct Political Meetings, in the case of MBC, the public media institution shall professionally determine the content of the news and maintain neutrality in the manner of reporting the news of the campaign propaganda of political parties and generally in its commentaries.

"Whether the issues will be of no substance, it will be up to people to judge but all political parties have the right to have their propaganda heard in all radio and television stations," Kalemba said.

He further appealed to reporters to be objective in their commentaries without being influenced by their individual political inclinations.

Kalemba added that MEC regulations further give the electoral body's Commissioner to monitor such news broadcasts and ensure equal news coverage of the campaigning by all political parties.

He said the MEC roles also included that no political party or candidate shall be entitled to make commercial advertisement for its campaign.

"The Commission may, by arrangements with the MBC, allocate time on the television and radio during which political parties may be allowed to speak in campaigning for an election and the Commission shall allocate equal time to every political party," said the DC quoting the MEC 'book of rules'.

Kalemba said for the purposes of the section, "campaign propaganda" meant any activity, statement or any other form of expression aiming directly or indirectly at promoting votes for any candidate or political party contesting in an election.

He also outlined restricted places for political rallies such as military units or police stations, public institutions and workplaces during normal working hours and educational institutions during class periods.

The prohibition of public places includes roads for whistle-stop tour but instead whistle-stop tours should be held 100 meters away from the roads.

The Friday meeting was attended by representatives of all contesting political parties, Lilongwe DC, the Chief Executive Officer for Lilongwe City Council, Central Region Police officers and MEC staff.

The main objective of the meeting was to hone multiparty liaison committees on how they could peacefully conduct elections free of violence.


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