By Grace Kapatuka – Secretary General
The Association of Catholic Journalists (ACJ) in Malawi, a grouping of Catholic media practitioners, has established Chapters in all the regions of the country in a bid to enhance smooth administration of the association.
The establishment of these chapters was agreed upon by the National Executive Committee (NEC) members for the association during their meeting held on Saturday, 17th February 2018 at Chitsime Conference Centre in Balaka district.
Delivering his welcoming remarks at the meeting, the President for the association in Malawi, Augustine Mulomole, said the establishment of the regional chapters was in line with the structures that were set up by the Catholic Church across the country.
“As you are all aware, we have the Southern Region Chapter which comprises the Archdiocese of Blantyre and the Diocese of Chikwawa; the Dioceses of Zomba and Mangochi form the Eastern Region Chapter; the Central Region Chapter comprises the Archdiocese of Lilongwe and the Diocese of Dedza; while the Northern Region Chapter comprises the dioceses of Mzuzu and Karonga,” he said.
Mulomole further thanked the NEC members for their attendance at the meeting, saying this was the right forum where resolutions are proposed in order to guide the operations of the association.
“As professionals in the media industry, the Catholic Church relies on us for information dissemination, hence the need for the Regional Chapters to work hand in hand with the Diocesan Communications Secretaries. We are so thankful to the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) for their untiring support which they continue to render towards the ACJ,” said Mulomole who also acknowledged the moral, material and financial support the ECM has been channeling towards the association.
The NEC members also made some resolutions, among them were the adjustment of the annual individual membership fees from MK5, 000.00 (US$7) to MK10, 000.00 (US$14); and institutional membership fees for Catholic Media Houses from MK10, 000.00 to MK15, 000.00 (US$21).
Both individual and institutional membership will now be done at regional level, and that regional chapters will be remitting 50 percent of the membership fees to the National Chapter.
All these proposed resolutions, according to the NEC members will be ratified at the association’s forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) which will be held at Fish Eagle Cottage in the lakeshore district of Salima from Friday, 27th – Sunday 29th April 2018, where the ACJ will also ratify the 2018 Action Plan as well as the proposed amendments to the association’s National Constitution.
Delivering his remarks at the NEC meeting, the ECM’s National Communications Secretary, Rev. Fr. Godino Phokoso encouraged the NEC members to continue with their hard working spirit in order to make the ACJ as vibrant as possible both at regional and national level.
“I’m particularly impressed with the turn up of the NEC members. You have sacrificed your resources to come to this meeting, this is very rare among leaders, some of whom always want to be benefiting from the groupings they are leading. Bravo ACJ, and please keep it up! My office is always there to support you, so let’s work together for the benefit of the ACJ but also for the benefit of the Catholic Church,” he said.
Fr. Phokoso further commended the Central Region Chapter for the ACJ which already has an action plan in place and is working towards mobilizing more Catholic Journalists to join the association.
“Let the other Chapters emulate what the Central Region Chapter has done. As ECM, we are working towards putting in place training sessions especially to make the Catholic Journalists understand the teachings of the Catholic Church, but also we need them to help us with the civic education exercises as we approach towards the 2019 tripartite elections in liaison with the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC). We shall therefore be working together with the regional chapters, hence the need to make them more vibrant,” he said.
Currently, the ACJ has 60 paid up members and over 300 registered members in Malawi. The association, which started in the country in 1992 as the Malawi Catholic Journalists Association (MACAJO), is among media bodies in Malawi such as the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter; Media Council of Malawi and the Journalists Union of Malawi (JUMA); just to mention but a few.