By Duncan Mlanjira
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has opened up the state broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to give equal opportunities for all aspiring presidential candidates to allocate time on the television and radio to air their campaign messages.
And MBC has already prepared a schedule on a daily basis for such candidates to utilize.
“In accordance with Section 63(2) of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation has arranged for airing of campaign messages for all Presidential Election contestants,” MEC says in a statement issued by Chief Election Officer, Sam Alfandika.
“The section stipulates that the Commission, may on arrangement with 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.
“In view of this, the Commission wrote all the eight (then nine) contestants on 1st March, 2019 requesting them to submit pre- recorded three minute campaign messages for radio and television by 15th March, 2019.”
However, MEC said as of Sunday, 14 April 2019, only three had submitted their messages — Tikonze Peoples Movement, Mbakuwaku Movement for Development and Umodzi Party.
“This is despite several reminders by the Commission secretariat to the Secretaries General of the parties to submit their campaign messages.
The Commission has consequently advised the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation to start broadcasting the campaign messages.
“To ensure transparency of the process, the public broadcaster has developed a schedule for airing the messages which the Commission is hereby sharing with all stakeholders.
“The Commission is also informing the public that all the presidential candidates have been invited for recording of a 30-minute programme which will be aired on both radio and television,” Alfandika said.
Attached to the MEC statement is the schedule prepared by MBC, that says campaign messages from the aspirants will be done daily on both Radio and TV platforms between 06:00 to 09:00; 16:30 to 17:00 and 20:00 to 22:30.
On top of that, there is going to be MBC Campaign News (Nkhani Zachisankho) on the Radio as follows:
“In the event that we have a Presidential Diary on the days, we will run the Campaign News from 21:30.
For TV, the schedule is as follows:
20:00 (Political segment in Prime News turned into campaign news)
20:00 campaign news segment in News Hour
20:00 political segment in Prime News turned to campaing news