Mulanje, Chairperson for Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi Chapter, Teresa Ndanga has challenged local leaders in Mulanje to be vigilant and on the lookout for fake news in the wake of Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and ahead of the Fresh Presidential Election.
Ndanga made the call on Wednesday when MISA Malawi met with selected local leaders in the district on the dangers of misinformation and how they could detect fake from factual news so that they were able to make sound decisions concerning their lives.
“As you are aware, the country is going through a critical period with the elections and the pandemic. As such people are getting a lot of unverified news and reports from social media and sometimes even from reputable media houses which we might not necessarily call fake news but maybe misinformation or propaganda.
“Therefore, as MISA Malawi, we decided to engage local leaders in the country to discuss how best they can detect fake news from factual reports so that they have the right information to make sound decisions,” Ndanga said.
She, therefore, urged the local leaders to ensure that their subjects were receiving the right information, saying this will guarantee that they are fully enjoying their rights as fake news and misinformation can endanger lives.
“We know of people who have contracted the virus simply because they were told that the pandemic is not real and they gave up in terms of the precautionary measures. Misinformation is a danger to our lives and our communities,” she said.
Traditional Authority (TA) Mthiramanja hailed MISA Malawi for organizing the meeting, saying it was important as they have been taught how they could separate real news from fake stories on both social and traditional media.
“We have learned and discussed important issues that have opened our eyes. In rural areas, we normally believe and share any information we come across on social media and even some media houses without verifying the information.
“With this meeting, we have been given skills to check the credibility of the news and reports we receive and how we can separate propaganda from factual news so that we can have the right information to make the best decisions,” Mthiramanja said.
Mthiramanja, therefore, asked his fellow chiefs to share the knowledge with their subjects.
The meeting was also attended by traditional and religious leaders, youth and women representatives, area and village development committee chairpersons and selected staff from Mulanje District Council.