Zomba, Malawi

By: Thomas Lansner, Director, Social Accountability Media Initiative


Malawi’s Maziko Radio reporters Kelvin Mpekasambo and Joel Nkhoma won first prize for their outstanding investigative reporting on theft and resale of school textbooks in the inaugural Social Accountability Media Initiative (SAMI) community radio reporting competition. The awards ceremony was held on September 21th in conjunction with a social accountability roundtable discussion in Zomba, Malawi.

Zomba, Malawi, 21 September 2018. Maziko Radio reporters Kelvin Mpekasambo and Joel Nkhoma win first prize [photo: Mike Banda, MEJN]


Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) Executive Director Mrs. June Kambalametore Mtila, and Aubrey Chikhungwa, Country Director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), two of four competition judges, presented a cash award of US $600 to the winning entrants.


MEJN partners with the World Bank-led Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA) to encourage citizen participation in improving access to, and use of, textbooks in Malawi primary schools. SAMI, a project of the Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications in Nairobi, is working with MEJN and the GPSA to train and mentor community radio and other journalists in Malawi to report on issues of critical interest to their communities.


Augustine Kambuzi Banda of Tigabane Radio earned second prize for a radio drama focusing on the importance of textbook care. The competition jury included SAMI Malawi Mentor/Advisor Professor Zeleza Levi Manda and MEJN GPSA Project Director Bertha Phiri, as well as Mr Chikhungwa and Mrs June Kambalametore Mtila.


Another Social Accountability Media Initiative (SAMI) reporting competition is now underway in Rwanda in collaboration with Transparency International Rwanda and Pax Press.


A report highlighting MEJN efforts to address the schools textbooks crisis in Malawi by journalist Mallik Mnela was also broadcast on Radio Zodiak, a private outlet heard throughout Malawi. MEJN and SAMI have collaborated in a series of trainings for journalists on reporting that raises people’s voices and encourages citizen participation in local social accountability efforts - Radio Zodiak participated in one of these workshops.

Note: The textbook price mentioned of 2000 Malawi kwacha is about three US dollars.

“Media play a fundamental role in educating citizens about the critical role of social accountability in improving the delivery of basic services,” says Jeff Thindwa, manager of the Global Partnership for Social Accountability at the World Bank. “These awards recognize important efforts to promote a better understanding of social accountability’s impact and contribution to sustainable development.”