The newly elected press gallery committee for the Malawi National Assembly started work with a promise to work on setting new standards to make the gallery effective and vibrant in a quest to provide a better platform for the linkage between Parliament, Members of Parliament, MPs and the public.
Malawi Parliament Press Gallery elected new office bearers who key among others are expected to set guidelines for operation as well as facilitate drafting and adoption of a new constitution to guide active, effective and standard news gathering and reporting in a more professional, developmental and ethical manner.
An elective Assembly converged at the Parliament Building in the Capital, Lilongwe on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 and it comprised of almost all active members of the media covering parliament from all accredited media houses.
Arnold Mnelemba, Journalist and News Editor for Ufulu FM radio was elected President and is deputized by Enelles Nyale of Nation Publications Limited. Catherine Maulidi an employee of Malawi Institute of Journalism, MIJ radio is the new Secretary while Madalitso Phiri of Zodiak Broadcasting Station, ZBS, is the new Treasurer.
The Executive Committee Members are; Clement Msiska, Capital FM radio, Steve Chilundu, Nation Publications Limited, Doreen Sonani, MBC, and Dorica Mtenje, Mlatho on-line radio.
Parliament Principal Public Relations Officer Suzgo Khunga who presided over the election commended members for coming up with a committee that will help Parliament to realize its dream of taking the Parliament closer to the people.
“As you know, we are always working towards making Parliament a haven for the public, we want our journalists to help us take Parliament closer to the people, it is a people’s Parliament,” said Khunga.
The President elect, Arnold Mnelemba hailed the members for entrusting him with the responsibility to lead the agenda of taking parliament closer to people.
Mnelemba said he is aware of an overarching responsibility ahead of the committee which is to perform and to deliver for the betterment of an ordinary citizen.
“We are mere carriers of information from sources to receivers, in this case, we are expected to act as a bridge between Parliament secretariat, Members of Parliament, political parties represented in the National Assembly and the people who we serve. We are going to dedicate our time to this noble cause and see to it that we set the standards. We are geared to leave a legacy at our House, Malawi Parliament,” Mnelemba said.
He said the first assignment is to see to it that a fully-fledged Media Center is established at Parliament to ease the work of media practitioners working at Parliament during committee meetings as well as during plenary sessions.
“We are grateful to the office of the Speaker, the Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara and secretariat for creating an enabling environment for journalists to operate in a conducive setup.
“I can single out Mr. Leonard Mengezi, Ian Mwenye and Suzgo Khunga for always been there for the press and making sure they provide space for the media covering Parliament to operate freely, professionally and without many challenges. Our first responsibility is to set up guidelines and constitution. We have to lobby for the setup of the media center,” said Mnelemba.
With support from the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) Malawi Parliament is implementing several projects aimed at taking parliament closer to people. As an implementation tool, Media is key to these projects and a vibrant media gallery has a bearing to see to it that the desirable results are achieved.
AFIDEP is an African-led, regional non-profit policy think tank established in 2010 to help bridge the gaps between research, policy and practice in development efforts in Africa.
The organisation conducts research and use the findings to generate or strengthen political commitment, inform resource allocation, programme design and implementation.