News media are essential for any democracy, but their role in an election period is even greater. One of the responsibilities of the media during an election period is to not only report on candidates fairly but to also unpack issues for the electorate to enable them to make informed decisions about who to vote for. Further, the media is expected to interrogate the elections manifestos, for instance, so that the electorate can understand what is promised to them.
The 2021 local government elections come at a time when the world is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic which for South Africa meant the uncertainty, debates and court applications for the postponement of the elections. With the voting date officially set for the 1st of November, 2021, political parties and candidates for the local government elections began the difficult task of convincing the electorate on why they should be given the vote. With many people suffering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which crippled the economy and destroyed lives and livelihoods, the electorate would need a lot of convincing on whom to vote for. While the media cannot convince the electorate, it can help the electorate by publishing and broadcasting well-researched content on elections issues and, giving fair representation of political parties and candidates.
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is monitoring media’s coverage of this year’s 2021 local government elections just as MMA has done for every local and national election since 1994. The media monitoring exercise is to ascertain trends in coverage and check what issues are placed on the media’s agenda. South Africa faces a number of issues among them high unemployment rate, racism and inequality, poor service delivery and Gender-Based Violence to name but a few. The monitoring exercise hopes to highlight whether these issues and more are in media coverage and to check how political parties and candidates are responding to these. Further, the monitoring hopes to expose instances of bias or breaches of codes of conduct.
For more information contact;
Lister Namumba; Programme Manager: Monitoring, Research And Analysis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Azola Dayile; Programme Manager: Advocacy, Litigation And Lobbying, email@example.com
011 788 1278