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The Soul Beat Issue 122: Communication and Elections in Africa

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  • Janet Feldman
    The Soul Beat Issue 122: Communication and Elections in Africa January 28 2009 From SOUL BEAT AFRICA - where communication and media are central to AFRICA s
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2009

      The Soul Beat Issue 122: Communication and Elections in Africa
      January 28 2009

      From SOUL BEAT AFRICA - where communication and media are central to AFRICA's social and economic development
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      Access this issue online at http://www.comminit.com/en/africa/soul-beat-122.html

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      This issue of The Soul Beat looks at the role of communication in elections in Africa. It includes programme experiences, strategic thinking documents, and materials which highlight how communication and the media can contribute to voter education, citizen participation, monitoring and observation, the management of conflict, and the increased participation of women electoral candidates. 

      If you would like your organisation's communication work or research and resource documents to be featured on the Soul Beat Africa website and in The Soul Beat newsletters, please contact soulbeat@...

      Please help us grow the network by forwarding this newsletter to your colleagues and broader networks. They can subscribe by going to http://www.comminit.com/en/user/register/38 or by sending an email to soulbeat@... with a subject of "subscribe".


      1. Khululeka Siyavota - South Africa
      Initiated by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Education department, this television drama series is designed to address issues related to voter education, the secrecy of a vote, and the emotional readiness of voting in preparation for the South African elections in 2009.
      Contact Lesley Fahey faheylk@...

      2. West African Elections Project - Cote d'Ivoire/Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea
      Coordinated by the International Institute for Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Journalism (PenPlusBytes), this project seeks to develop the capacity of the media in information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a tool for election coverage and the provision of election information for elections planned in Ghana, Cote d'lvoire, and Guinea from 2008 to 2009. A key component of the project is the African Election Portal which is designed to provide comprehensive election related information on the various countries covered by the online portal.
      Contact Cote d'Ivoire/Ivory Coast cielections@... OR Ghana ghelections@... OR Guinea guineaelections@...

      3. Angola Solta a Tua Voz! (Angola Lift Up Your Voice) - Angola
      This music project by Search for Common Ground (SFCG) in Angola, supported by UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Commission, involves the production and distribution of a compact disc (CD) featuring songs with messages of peace and unity by popular Angolan musicians from diverse parts of the country. It was produced for the run-up to the September 2008 elections, with the aim of motivating Angolans to participate peacefully in the newly emerging democracy. The organisation also used radio and television media to help promote the CD and its messages.
      Contact Michael Bodakowski mbodakowski@... OR Frances Fortune ffortune@...

      4. Ushahidi - Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, South Africa
      Ushahidi, which means "testimony" in Swahili, is an online platform for collating information during emergency situations. Individuals are able to submit crisis information through text messaging using a mobile phone, email, or web form, which is then displayed on a map or timeline, to assist with identifying problem areas. Ushahidi was first developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election period at the beginning of 2008. The Ushahidi Engine used the lessons learned from Kenya to develop a platform designed to allow anyone around the world to use the tool to gather reports and map them.
      Contact: Visit the online form

      5. Search for Common Ground (SFCG): Elections in Sierra Leone - Sierra Leone
      In Sierra Leone, Search for Common Ground's (SFCG) strategy focuses on building capacity and establishing local structures that support sustaining peace and building citizen participation in governance. This included an initiative to help support a credible and free outcome in the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, and the 2008 local government elections. In addition to supporting an extensive national voter education campaign, which included the use of television and live constituency debates with parliamentary candidates in strategic locations and on the radio, SFCG focused its efforts on leading the development of the Independent Radio Network (IRN) and National Election Watch (NEW), a coalition of civil society organisations dedicated to elections observation.
      Contact Frances Fortune ffortune@... OR Ambrose James ajames@...

      6. ActionAid Election Project in Nigeria - Nigeria
      Leading up to the 2007 elections in Nigeria, ActionAid Nigeria, together with partners at the national, community, and state levels, implemented a project to provide platforms for people to engage with the issues and processes leading to free and fair elections. This included building the capacity of civil society and communities on issues related to the protection of their mandate during and after elections; building capacity of civil society and communities on election observation and reporting; and encouraging partnerships with relevant stakeholders towards the conduct of a free and fair election. The project had 7 main activities, ranging from stakeholders' forums and conferences to capacity building and public information campaigns.
      Contact: ActionAid Nigeria info.nigeria@...

      Deadline for submission of abstracts: 2 February 2009

      The Gender and Media Diversity Journal is the biennial journal of the Gender and Media Diversity Centre (GMDC). The sixth edition of the Journal will focus on the topic of "Gender, Diversity, Elections and the Media" and the GMDC is calling for contributions. 

      For more information go to http://www.comminit.com/redirect.cgi?cimo=1&r=http://www.genderlinks.org.za/page.php?p_id=394


      7. Election Campaigns, Balance, and the Mass Media
      by Holli A. Semetko
      This document describes and analyses the role of media in elections in four democracies and societies in transition: Mexico, Turkey, Russia, and Kenya. Because mass media are the most common source for information about election campaigns in democracies and societies in transition around the world, the author argues that concerns about political bias in the mass media are at the heart of debates about the roles and responsibilities of the media at election time, due to the possibility that the media will, intentionally or unintentionally, influence the electorate. Moreover, where voting is not mandatory, the press may be used by political parties to either stimulate turnout or to repress turnout to accomplish their goals.

      8. How Far to Go? Kenya's Media Caught in the Turmoil of a Failed Election
      This report documents the findings of a fact-finding mission conducted by Reporters without Borders, International Media Support (IMS), and Article 19 to investigate the successes and failures of the country's media during the post-election crisis in Kenya. According to the report, when violence erupted and spread, all the media joined together (sometimes in chorus) and printed long editorials, commentaries, and articles and even joint front pages calling for national harmony. But this switch to being peacemakers shocked some Kenyans and foreign observers, especially journalists and media experts. They said it was not only dishonest but that the media had become involved in role-playing that diverted it from its job of seeking out the truth in the public interest.

      9. Media and Elections/Governance
      by Deborah Walter (ed.)
      This section of the fourth edition of the Gender and Media Diversity Journal, published by the Gender and Media Diversity Centre, explores elections and governance including: paradoxical images of women in the post-election media coverage in Kenya; the relationship of women, politics, and the media; and gender balance in the Russian media.

      10. Design for Democracy African Style
      by Wendy MacNaughton
      This article discusses the challenges, lessons, and impact of a national civic sensitisation campaign for the first democratic local elections in Rwanda which were held in 2001. The purpose of the campaign, which involved the design and distribution of a series of posters, fliers, and graffiti images, was to educate citizens about the purpose and importance of voting, teach people to use a secret ballot, and motivate people to participate. The author discusses the challenges of creating designs that communicated equally to literate and non-literate voters; were sensitive to ethnicity and ethnic, political, and economic division; and were culturally appropriate.


      Which of the options below best describe the role played by community radio stations in elections in Africa (you may choose more than one).  
      * supportive of democratic processes  
      * potential is underutilised  
      * potential is ignored completely  
      * abused by political parties  
      * biased       
      * uninformed       

      To vote and send comments go to
      http://www.comminit.com/en/africa/community-radio and see the Top Right side of the page.


      11. Cobertura Eleitoral Responsável em Angola - Manual do Jornalista (Responsible Election Coverage in Angola - Manual for Journalists)
      Search for Common Ground (SFCG) in Angola, in partnership with IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems) and with funding from the US Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, were involved in a campaign to prepare the Angolan Media for the parliamentary elections. As part of this initiative, SFCG and IFES developed this handbook on responsible election reporting for media practitioners.

      12. Outside the Ballot Box: Preconditions for Elections in Southern Africa 2005/6
      by Jeanette Minnie
      This is the second edition of Outside the Ballot Box, an initiative of the Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NiZA), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), and the Humanist Institute for Development Co-operation (HiVOS). In this edition, 14 authors write about the state of affairs related to elections, democracy, and civil society in Southern Africa. Some of the questions the authors of this book are attempting to answer are: What role do elections play in strengthening democracy, observance of human rights, and in providing capacity to poor and marginalised people to express their demands and needs? Do women participate on an equal basis? Can elections in a one-party state be free and fair?

      13. Women and Elections: Guide to Promoting the Participation of Women in Elections
      This handbook is intended as a quick reference guide for organisations working to promote the participation of women in the electoral process in post-conflict countries. The handbook describes the opportunities for expanding women's involvement at each of the key stages of the electoral process, and includes a set of general recommendations. Recommendations for each stage of the election process are also covered.

      14. Media + Elections: An Elections Reporting Handbook
      by Ross Howard
      This handbook is designed to offer journalists basic preparation for meeting the challenges of covering elections, particularly for countries where democracy is fragile or a new idea. According to the publication, every country has different election rules and campaign issues, but there are some worldwide standards for an election to be considered free and fair. The handbook highlights some of the rights and responsibilities of professional journalists as well as some of the skills journalists require to help voters become better informed.

      15. Producão de Programas "Educacão Cívica Eleitoral" (Election Coverage in a Community Radio)
      This publication is part of a series of Portuguese-language training materials produced during "Strengthening Democracy and Governance through Development of the Media in Mozambique", a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) media development project that ran from 1998 to 2006 in Mozambique. Part of the project included a process to identify and define how community radios can best play their role as community promoters of social change and to define the role of community radio in the electoral process. A national consultative process was initiated in 2002. The result of these seminars was a set of clear recommendations, condensed into "Ten Rules of Conduct for Community Radios during the Election Period".

      16. MobileActive Strategy Guide #1: Using Mobile Phones in Elections and Voter Registration Campaigns
      by Michael Stein
      This series of Strategy Guides is designed to equip organisations around the world with the know-how to deploy effective mobile campaigns for a variety of types of activism and advocacy. Guide #1 covers the use of mobile phones in elections, both as voter registration and monitoring tools. They can also be used to educate citizens on candidates and their stances on issues and for fund raising in support of candidates. According to this guide, mobile phones have been used for systematic election monitoring in Nigeria, Macedonia, Sierra Leone, and Kenya, among women voters in Saudi Arabia, and in popular uprisings in the Ukraine and South Korea.

      17. A Campaign Manual for Women Candidates in the Sierra Leone Local Government Elections
      This training manual, developed by the National Democratic Institute (NDI), is designed to train women candidates in campaigning for local elections. According to the NDI, they train women candidates because women generally face more challenges than men in running for office, but, once elected, work hard to serve and improve their communities. The guide has 4 key sections that cover everything from the role of local government to planning a campaign, speaking in public, and fundraising.


      18. Reporting on Elections for Radio (Feb 23-24 2009) Johannesburg, South Africa
      Organised by the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ), this course is designed for radio reporters, producers, and freelance reporters planning to cover the South African national elections in 2009.   

      19. Getting Media Mileage for 2009 Elections (Feb 23-25 2009) Johannesburg, South Africa
      This IAJ workshop is designed for party spokespersons, as well as communicators from government and civil society sectors who need to get their elections message across.

      Related previous issues of The Soul Beat include:

      The Soul Beat 99 - Communication for Conflict Prevention and Resolution

      The Soul Beat 107 - Governance in Africa

      To view archived editions of The Soul Beat Newsletter see http://www.comminit.com/en/africa/soul-beat-archives.html

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