Makanday, Zambia Centre for Investigative Journalism is an independent, non-profit newsroom established in 2016. The centre produces investigative journalism in the public interest.
Makanday’s work focuses on transformational stories with “moral force,” and aims to shine a light on the exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of power elites to vindicate the trust placed in them. Our other aim is to provide our audience with content that is authoritative, reliable and factual – information that consumers need to understand the world better.
Makanday is predominantly financed by donations from philanthropic foundations and by citizen membership. Our research and stories reach the public in cooperation with newspapers, radio and television stations.
As a digital publication, we are able to avoid associated legacy media production costs related to printing or distribution, allowing us to focus on the quality and breadth of our content.
Makanday is a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) https://gijn.org and the regional Investigative Journalism Hub (IJ Hub) currently headquartered in Johannesburg. IJ Hub’s other members include sister news platforms in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
What topics do we research?
Makanday researches long-term threats and challenges of our society, abuse of power and corruption in politics, business and economics, labour issues and the justice system. Other topics include the environment, education, health and social justice. Makanday believes that all these issues are of great importance, and have a significant impact on the lives of many people.
How do we determine whether a topic suits you?
Our topics must have clear relevance to people’s lives. They must be concrete, not abstract. We research in areas where we suspect that something is at stake and that by working on a specific idea, the published outcome will spur positive change.
At the same time, we want to take care of education and training. Not only do we want to share our stories, but we are also keen to pass on our knowledge to others, in order to further enrich the level and quality of public debate throughout Zambia.
What we do
- Through our research, we want to make structural grievances and unethical behaviour public. We help society to help itself. We want to provide people with information so they can make changes and, for example, correct their mistakes by participating in elections.
- Through our independent and non-profit approach, we offer editorial guidance with free access to stories that other publishers would find difficult to research. We want to spread investigative journalism in Zambia and help to maintain diversity and quality in the media.
- We want to pass on our methods and journalistic craftsmanship to all interested citizens and help to enforce information rights on the ground. We want to help citizens to make society more transparent in order to increase the participation of all.
Makanday is led by its two managing partners. John Mukela is editor-in-chief, with the final authority regarding editorial content. Charles Mafa is the Managing Editor, in charge of operational matters. The managing partners are augmented by a team of freelance contributors and guest columnists and writers.
Makanday is governed by a supervisory board led by Professor Ackson Kanduza as chair and Mr. Reuben Lifuka as deputy chair. Dr. O’Brien Kaaba is and Ms. Buumba Kaunga are the other member of the governing board of trustees.
Ms Buumba Mwela Kaunga
Ms Kaunga is a chartered accountant with more than 25 years of experience in financial matters. She is a fellow of the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) and is currently engaged as Finance and Resources Manager at the British Council head office in Lusaka. Among her many responsibilities and duties at the British Council are managing financial systems and controls, procurement, management of fixed assets, financial planning and reporting and grants management – both large and small of up to £26 million. She has a wealth of experience in the NGO world, and has coordinated various projects with relevant partners such as the European Union.
Dr. O’Brien Kaaba
Dr. Kaaba, LLB (University of London), LLM (University of Zambia), LLD (University of South Africa) is a lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Zambia and a senior research fellow at SAIPAR. He has formerly served as Elections Manager for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) in Zambia, Political Specialist for the US Department of State at the American Embassy in Lusaka (Zambia) and as a Human Rights and Rule of Law Advisor for the Germany Development Cooperation (GIZ) in Zambia. O’Brien is a co-editor of the book Electoral Politics in Zambia published by Brill in 2020.
Mr. Reuben Lifuka
Mr Lifuka studied architecture at Copperbelt University. He also has a Masters Degree in Integrated Environmental Management. He is current president of Transparency International Zambia (TIZ). Previously he worked for the National Heritage as a Conservation Architect. He now runs his own consultancy firm dealing in environmental management. Mr. Lifuka has a long history of service in the NGO world, including serving on the boards of the Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC), Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), Transparent International, Zambian Governance Foundation, Media Council of Zambia and Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia.
Professor ackson Kanduza
Professor Kanduza is a lecturer of history at the Zambian Open University. After completing his PhD he returned to work at the University of Zambia from 1983 to 1988, and then relocated to Swaziland and spent 18 years lecturing at the University of Swaziland and later, the University of Botswana. He is the author of various research studies in social-economic history.
Makanday is registered as a non-profit company – Makanday Media Centre Limited. The editorial team is headquartered in Lusaka.
John has significant experience as a reporter, editor and media trainer, He was Chief Editor of Lesotho’s first daily newspaper, The Nation, and later, Editor of The Botswana Guardian, before joining the BBC as a reporter, producer and presenter on Focus on Africa. One of four founders to establish the Weekly Post (subsequently The Post), which he briefly edited, he later served for 12 years as Executive Director of the regional Nordic-SADC Journalism Centre.
Charles is a Zambian investigative journalist with over 20 years’ experience in the media industry. His journalism works have won him several individual recognition and awards, including the 2016 overall MISA best Zambian journalist and was second best student in the World Bank-funded investigative journalism training in 2011 which won him an internship placing at South Africa’s Mail and Guardian. He is also the 2016 (USA) Edward R. Murrow Fellow. His journalism has appeared on the BBC radio, in South Africa’s Mail and Guardian Newspaper, the New York Times, and in several international publications. He was Associate Editor and Environmental Columnist for the Bulletin and Record Magazine until its closure in 2016. In his other previous work, he was Production Manager, cameraman and script writer for Catholic Media Services TV Production Studios. Radio provided him entry into journalism, having volunteered for several years as radio announcer and sports presenter at Yatsani and in the local Lozi language section of ZNBC.
Vernon is arguably the longest-serving media practitioner in Zambia. He founded and was editor-in-chief of Original Publishers Limited, which until its closure in 2016, published Zambia’s foremost quality periodical, the Bulletin & Record. He has worked as a journalist for more than 40 years and is a multiple award-winning writer, named Journalist of the Year (New Zealand, 1986) for his writings on South Africa and New Caledonia. He has worked in radio, newspapers and magazines as a reporter, editor, chief sub-editor, production editor and designer, and has been a foreign correspondent in South-east Asia. He has served as Research Editor for Africa Books in London, and as Associate Editor of Gemini News Service, also in London. He is a former Chief Sub-Editor and senior writer for the weekly NZ Listener, one of the most successful weekly magazines in the world on a per capita basis. He is a former Assistant Editor of the daily Times of Zambia in the days before it was nationalised, and he initiated the first in-house training scheme for journalists in Zambia. He founded and was first editor of The Zambian Farmer magazine, as well as the Bulletin & Record. He is the author of four non-fiction books; two of them best sellers in his native New Zealand.
What makes us different from other editorial offices?
Finding a way to make journalism sustainable is tough enough these days. But finding how to support investigative journalism – which can be expensive, time consuming, and carry substantial risk – may be the media’s toughest challenge of all.
As businesses, media organisations have responsibilities that are broadly similar to those of other companies. The term ‘footprint’ is often used to reflect their economic, environmental and social impacts. What is particular to media organizations is that they can also be considered to have a ‘brainprint’: the impact and influence they have on society through their content.
This brainprint means that content can affect attitudes, behaviours and public opinion, which poses additional responsibilities on media organizations towards society.
With freedom comes responsibility, and responsibility requires ethical decision-making. Media organisations that abide by ethical standards of disclosure will inevitably build trust and reputation, which are key success factors in a rapidly changing and challenging environment.
As a charitable non-profit, Makanday strives to make its editorial content accessible to the widest possible audience.
What distinguishes Makanday from the research departments of classical media?
The establishment of investigative centres in recent years has been a step in the right direction. We also see the need for media houses to maintain research departments. Extensive research allows newspapers, radio and TV stations to create exclusive content that distinguishes them from competitors.
Makanday, on the other hand, strives to make complex issues and its content accessible to as wide an audience as possible, including media organisations, at liberty to re-publish our work, as long as they credit Makanday as the source of the content.
How is Makanday funded?
Makanday is non-profit. This means that its directors do not benefit from any dividends that may accrue and over and above operational costs, all revenues are ploughed back into the further development and capitalization of the organisation.
Funded predominantly by grants from charitable foundations as well as through contributions and subscriptions from sponsors, Makanday is therefore less dependent on sales and advertisements.
Collectively, support from membership subscriptions, donations, and charitable grants, ensures our long-term independence.
A large part of our funding is borne by foundations. Why do we need membership fees?
It is only through the funding of our sponsors that we have the independence that we need for our work in the long term. Funding by foundations is mostly project-related and therefore limited in time. Grants from foundations are therefore always associated with certain uncertainties. For this reason, our goal is to attract as many funding members as possible.
You pretend to be independent. But you are financially bound to the foundations. Is this a problem?
We do not accept money from people who want to dictate to us how we have to work. No one will influence our editorial work.
We accept contractual funding from various foundations and organisations. These commitments give us security and guarantee journalistic independence from politics and business. We want to provide the necessary transparency to make the independence of our work verifiable.
How do you measure the success of your project when there are neither reader numbers nor sales?
We want to disclose the structures of grievances and to initiate discussions in this way. Discussions that help society become more worthwhile and fair are important to us. If our research is successful on a regular basis, then our project has been successful. Our success is also amplified by the extent of the debate stimulated by our content. The greatest success comes when a particular grievance is resolved.
In which channel people come into contact with our research is of no major relevance to this success: be it in print form, under the label of one of our media partners, or on our own website. It could equally be on a social network or on the street. What is important is to reach the people with our research, and to inform them. Not in which medium the people learn about our news.
Important news and information is now spread so quickly and in so many ways that it is often difficult to identify the original author.
We are happy when many people take our educational offer – as more and more people help to make our society transparent. This, in our view, can be one of the most enduring successes of any journalist’s work.
Independent journalism needs independent funding
To our understanding, the core of journalism is to shine a spotlight in the dark corners of society’s recesses. It is not simply about uncovering abuses by delving into mounting political and corporate corruption the abuse of power by politicians, or the widening gap of rich and poor and social inequality. It is equally, about pointing to possible solutions.
In order for us to work, we need people to support us. You will also become a member of the research team and thus enable the work of investigative journalists at Makanday.
We are convinced that without independent and critical media, our everyday freedoms, and our inalienable democratic rights, are under increasing threat.
Makanday develops investigative journalism by imparting investigative skills to others in the media through fellowships and workshops. Fellows join us from across the country, where we also encourage the establishment of regional investigative hubs.
Makanday’s Code of Ethics
All Makanday Media Centre journalists abide by the following code of ethics. The purpose of distributing news and informed opinion is to serve the general welfare.
Journalists who use their professional status as representatives of the public for selfish or other unworthy motives violate a high trust. Journalists uphold the right to voice unpopular opinions and shall at all times defend the principle of freedom of the media in relation to the collection of information and the expression of comment and criticism. Makanday Media Centre workers therefore pledge to abide by the following ethics:
- The public has the right to know the truth. Therefore journalists have a duty to report the truth either as representing objective reality or representing what the source says fairly, accurately and objectively.
- Story headlines should be fully warranted by the contents of the articles they accompany. Photographs and telecasts should give an accurate picture of an event and not highlight an incident out of context.
- Makanday Media Centre will respect the confidentiality of sources to whom they have pledged anonymity.
- Only fair methods should be used to obtain news, photographs and documents except where overriding public interest justifies the use of other means.
- We regard as a grave professional offence, the acceptance of bribes in any form in consideration of either dissemination or suppression of information.
- Makanday Media Centre shall promptly rectify any harmful inaccuracies, ensure that correction and apologies receive due prominence and afford the right of reply to persons criticized when the issue is of sufficient importance.
- Makanday Media Centre shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on among other things, race, sex, religion, political or other opinions of national or social origins.
- Secondary employment, political involvement, holding public office, and service in community organisations should be avoided if it compromises the integrity of employees of Makanday Media Centre.
- Plagiarism is dishonest and unacceptable.
- Makanday Media Centre shall respect the moral and cultural values of the Zambian society, insofar as they do not violate international legally binding statutes of basic human rights of freedom and association.
- Makanday Media Centre shall respect people’s privacy unless public interest demands otherwise.