Candidates running for president, vice president and National Secretary General in Saturday's July 13, 2019 elections of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) yesterday shared their plans of how they want the association to look like in the next three years.
The national debate at the British Council Auditorium in Freetown was organised by the Sierra Leone Reporters Union (SLRU) with support from partners, including the British High Commission on the theme: "Journalists welfare and gender mainstreaming in the media".
Eligible voters and some members of the public were present to listen attentively and ask critical questions hinging on welfare of journalists, gender mainstreaming and the repeal of the criminal libel law.
Members of SLAJ will converge at the Golden Tulip Essential Kimbima Hotel in Freetown on Friday July 12, 2019 for the opening of this year's Triennial Conference to be followed by the election the next day.
The two presidential candidates; Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk) and Mustapha M.K Sesay assured eligible voters of quality leadership, if given the opportunity to serve.
For Mustapha M.K Sesay, he promised to ensure a befitting SLAJ secretariat across the country, as according to him, the current secretariat, especially the one in the north, does not befit the association.
"We will have a learning need assessment and it outcome will come with specifics. We will develop long and short term plans," he said and assured of his determination to ensure better conditions of service for reporters.
He claimed that the association for the past six years has been silent in commenting on key issues of national interest and promised to revive it, if elected come Saturday.
With regards welfare and safety of journalists, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla said: "Welfare and viability of media houses is key. Legally, there is a law on minimum wage, whiles on the economic aspect, the country's economy is depreciating with high cost on media production as per profit. I will engage media owners on this."
He promised to establish a media owners association to assist SLAJ along with the Media Reform Coordinating Group (MRCG) to be backed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to look into the affairs of media owners with welfare of journalist at the centre.
Earlier, outgoing President, Kelvin Lewis, urged candidates for various positions to be peaceful in their campaign, while expressing hope that the best person wins the presidency.