GOVERNMENT EQUIPS MEDIA ON THE SADC AGENDA
By Winston Mwale – The Africa Brief.Dr. Luckie Sikwese, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, has officially opened an Orientation Training Workshop for News Editors in Malawi on issues of SADC Regional Integration Agenda. The meeting took place at Sunbird Livingstonia Beach Hotel in Salima.The main objective of the training was to capacitate editors in Malawi about SADC regional integration, and obtain their buy-in on the need to ensure that coverage on SADC issues is sustained beyond the media trainings.In his remarks, Dr. Sikwese appreciated the professionalism of the Malawi Media and implored on the News Editors to assist in the success of the upcoming 41st Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government and Malawi’s SADC Chairship for 2021-2022 beyond this event.He informed the participants that the expectation is to see them becoming experts on issues of SADC regional integration and extensively cover the upcoming Summit.Sikwese also outlined some of the requirements needed for the media to effectively contribute to the success of the upcoming Summit.In addition, he provided solutions to the information needs that the members of the press might encounter.He noted that there is an information gap on issues of SADC in Malawi “most of our people, who are expected to be active agents, are broadly unaware of the opportunities for poverty eradication through regional integration and are least interested in SADC and its potential. This tends to limit the debate to a limited circle of Government officials, who are conversant with regional integration issues.”Malawi will assume the SADC Chairship next month and one of the issues on its agenda is to ensure that Malawians know the issues of SADC comprehensively and benefit fully from the institution.On his part, the SARDC Executive Director, Dr. Munetsi Mudakufamba thanked the Government of Malawi for hosting this very important Editors Round-Table on SADC Regional Integration, and for the wonderful hospitality accorded to the SARDC delegation.He said the media is the Fourth Estate, which will play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between SADC Governments and its Citizens by conveying government policies to their citizens as well as feedback from the citizens to their governments hence the importance of the training. Dr Munetsi indicated that he believes that capacitating the Editors on SADC issues will assist to create a constructive dialogue between SADC Governments and their Citizens on various regional integration issues.With sponsorship from GIZ, the Government of Malawi, in coordination with SARDC and SADC Secretariat, has organized a series of trainings which started with Media Managers on 29th July 2021, reporters from 30th July to 1st August, 2021 and SADC National Committee Members on 2nd August 2021.The workshop has trained 20 News Editors from across the country to ensure diversity and extensive participation.The one-day meeting enabled a broad collaboration and discussion between the News Editors and Senior Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information and SARDC.