By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Parliamentary Reporters Association of The Gambia, in collaboration with PNAfrica and in partnership with the African Parliamentary Press Network through the National Assembly, successfully conducted a training program on parliamentary procedures for a cohort of 20 parliamentary reporters. This noteworthy event took place on Friday, September 29, 2023.
The primary objective of this training initiative is to fortify the media’s presence within the Parliament of The Gambia, with the overarching goal of fostering transparency, accountability, and inclusivity within the legislative processes of the nation.
During the event, Kalipha MM. Mbaye, who serves as the Deputy Clerk for Legal and Procedural Matters at the National Assembly, emphasized the institution’s commitment to a policy of increased accessibility to the general public. This initiative aligns with their overarching mission to promote greater openness and public engagement within the parliamentary arena.
“We said parliamentarians are the representatives of the people. But we believe as well that journalists are also representatives of the people because you give news to the public there for parliament, and journalists have a very cordial working relationship as well as a unique mandate to ensure democracy and good governance flourish in any country,” he said.
Mr. Mbaye emphasized the importance of journalists reporting on parliamentary matters and encouraged parliamentary reporters to organize themselves into a well-structured association so that they can have formal recognition.
He noted that all journalists have the right to report on parliamentary matters, but that it would be easier for the office of the clerk to reach out to them and share information if they were organized into a single association. This is because the ultimate goal of parliament is to reach the people, and journalists are the ones who can help spread the information.
“We are most delighted at any time to partner with your association, and also, please feel free and never hesitate to contact us should you need our assistance and cooperation in ensuring such an important association lives the life it’s expected, and we will give you all that necessary support you need,” Mbaye told the reporters.
Ndey Ceesay, the public relations officer of the Parliamentary Reporters Association, said that the relationship between the National Assembly and the media has improved over the years compared to previous years.
“Parliament plays a crucial role in our society and enhances democracy; thus, it’s important for journalists to be equipped with the skills needed to report faithfully to the public. This is why we are building this capability to equip members with the skills needed to report on parliamentary affairs. We thank our partners, the PNAfrica, APPN, and the NA, for such an opportunity,” she said.