Investigative journalist Golden Matonga has been elected Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter chairperson. He takes over from Teresa Ndanga, the first woman to rise to the helm. Our Lilongwe Assistant Bureau Chief SUZGO CHITETE catches up with Matonga to understand what the landslide vote means to the country’s media landscape. Excerpts:
Congratulations on winning the Misa-Malawi top position. How does it feel?
I am genuinely thrilled and grateful to my colleagues for electing me chairperson of Misa-Malawi Chapter. I feel greatly honoured to take up this role and I am overwhelmed by the confidence colleagues have in me and the rest of the new National Governing Council. Once again, I congratulate my contender Wonder Msiska and other candidates who were not successful in the elections for a brave decision to contest.
I look forward to working with all stakeholders, including the outgoing committee and media colleagues towards achieving our election pledges. The campaign is over; we must now go back to work and strive to achieve our shared aspirations.
As Minister of Information and Digitisation Moses Kunkuyu noted during the press presidential breakfast and Misa gala, Ndanga has left a big shoe to fit in. Does this intimidate you that you will be exposed to inevitable comparison?
I am indeed taking over the mantle after my friend Ndanga’s highly successful six-year tenure. She has provided phenomenal leadership throughout and the results are there for all of us to see. It’s a huge challenge to replace such a powerful leader, but our incoming team believes that through synergy, our collective strengths, consultations with other stakeholders and honest and engaged leadership, we can provide sound leadership to Misa Malawi. Our governing council members, vice-chairperson Chisomo Ngulube and member Nathan Majawa are experienced and motivated at media affairs and will contribute to implementation of our vision for Misa Malawi.
What are your top priorities for the first year?
My priority areas for the first year are to keep on track current projects, programmes and partnerships such as continued journalism education, operationalise a legal defence fund, facilitate a review of the annual media awards to make them more inclusive and reflective of the diversity and growth of the sector. I also look forward to working with all partners, both domestic and international to foster press freedom and build capacity of journalists in Malawi and across the region.
Over the coming weeks and months, I will be working closely with our secretariat and partners to develop a comprehensive roadmap for implementation of both our electoral pledges and long-term Misa Malawi strategic plans.
I believe that by working together, we can achieve great things and ensure that our organisation continues to be a beacon of truth, media diversity, professionalism and accountability in a world where these values are increasingly under threat.
Do you have confidence that you will do more than your predecessor?
I do believe the chairmanship of Misa or any elected office is a relay race. Ndanga did her part and passed the baton to me and our team will do its part. We will strive to always act in best interest of the organisation and hope to be as successful in pursuit of our agenda for office. But one thing leadership will never be, in my terms, a competition between predecessor and successor. Of course, ultimately, every public office holder must, indeed, be judged on their ability to deliver their pledges.
What legacy do you want to leave behind when your term expires?
I want to leave behind a media fraternity confident of its place in the world. Journalists, who are well trained and fully grasp their role in holding duty-bearers to account and a public that embraces free speech, I also want to leave behind a Misa Malawi with solid foundation for resource mobilisation, a Misa that ultimately will promote and reward excellent journalism and bring prestige to the job and a Misa that will be strong willed and well-resourced to defend attacks on journalism in the wake of attacks.