Speaking during the official opening of a 2 day training for radio dramatists, Executive Director for NICE Trust Ollen Mwalubunju said a recent survey has revealed that most people in the country get key messages through radio hence radio dramatists play a crucial role in disseminating information to the masses through soap operas.
“As you know we are fast approaching the tripartite elections month. There are a number of key issues relating to the same that need to be relayed to the masses. Thus we need the expertise of dramatists to simplify information on: voter apathy, political violence, null and void votes etc through radio drama.
We also know through research that most people in rural areas are illiterate thus packaging such information in other media channels cannot have the same impact as radio,” said Mwalubunju.
Commenting on the partnership, Director General for MBC, Aubrey Sumbuleta commended NICE for the role it plays in a democratic dispensation. He said MBC is ready to provide the platform to dramatists as way of enhancing civic education on the impending tripartite elections.
Aubrey Sumbuleta: MBC's Director General
He said, “The forthcoming elections on 21st May are very important to the nation. Dramatists are well known for entertaining people however through drama we learn a number of important things critical to our wellbeing as a nation. So we found it imperative to collaborate with NICE Trust to drill the dramatists so that in turn they should civic educate the masses on voting through radio plays as we approach 21st May.”
Sumbuleta further said it is unfortunate that some quarters think MBC has shunned coverage of the presidential debates. He disclosed that MBC has contributed immensely through supplying technical equipment and its expertise to enable the nation watch the debates live. He said people shouldn’t bash MBC on baseless grounds rather should commend the broadcaster for the positive and patriotic roles it is playing behind the scenes.
'‘Let us learn to commend one another. Like I said MBC is contributing a lot to these debates. We have allocated state of the art cameras and surely our expertise as a major player in the industry has helped to make these presidential debates a success. For your information other broadcasters are getting a feed from MBC to air the debates.”
On his part Chairperson for Civic and Voter Education Committee at Malawi Elections Commission (MEC), Moffat Banda, said the partnership between MBC and NICE will strengthen the civic education aspect on the forthcoming polls.
Moffat Banda: MEC's Chair for Civic and Voter Education Committee
“There are places that MEC cannot be physically present but NICE officials are there. Now using radio that has a wide reach will be complementing to efforts that raise awareness on voter education,” said Banda.
Commenting on the development, Programmes Manager for Development Broadcasting Unit (DBU) for MBC, Joshua Chirwa, said observations by Mwalubunju on the impact of radio on a number of socio-economic activities are just correct. He said MBC has over 120 Radio Listening Clubs (RLCs) scattered across the country and when communities listen to radio programmes or soap operas they really take action.
Joshua Chirwa: Programmes Manager MBC DBU
“We have several success stories worth mentioning but the list is endless. In Lirangwe members of RLC played a key role in convincing authorities to start getting Anti Retro Viral drugs at Lirangwe Health Centre and managed to influence construction of a bridge. In the Lower Shire a number of documented success stories are there that radio played a role in sensitization of bad cultural practices, so radio soaps are just relevant in the current scenario as we approach elections,” said Chirwa.
MBC as a pacesetter in broadcasting industry in the country has two radio channels, Television, Online and Development Broadcasting Unit. Radio programmes such as Pamajiga, Nzerunkupangwa, Theater of the air and Sewero la sabata ino have commanded a huge audience since time immemorial.