Zambia: Media bodies given 6-month ultimatum

zambia_george_kundaVICE-PRESIDENT George Kunda has challenged media bodies in the country to come up with a draft Bill for self-regulation within six months failure to which the Government will introduce one in Parliament.

Mr Kunda also appealed to leaders of media bodies to consider cancelling the demonstration planned for today, noting that other people could easily jump on the bandwagon and cause confusion.

He said during a meeting with some media representatives in Lusaka yesterday that the Government already had a draft policy on the matter, as it could not sit idle while some journalists were violating their professionalism.

He said currently, there was a lot of irresponsible reporting in Zambia and, therefore, there was need to change the scenario.

The ball is in your court, as soon as possible give us a draft of your blueprint on self-regulation. Otherwise, know that we have a draft legislation which we can present to Parliament any time.

Come up with a document on self-regulation, let us say within the period of six months. Let us see what you will come up with, he said.

Mr Kunda told the meeting which included Cabinet and deputy ministers that the Government would look at the medias blueprint and compare it with what it had and then proceed from there.

He said the Government had the responsibility to ensure continued peace and stability in the country and noted that the current situation that had reached physical confrontation was not healthy.

He said the Government was committed to media freedom but observed that it equally had an obligation to protect citizens.

On the Freedom of Information Bill, Mr Kunda said the media should put its house in order, adding that the Government does not want to give a blank cheque to them, by enacting the law before that.

On the planned peaceful demonstration, Mr Kunda urged the organisers of the protest to be wary of their responsibilities and said other people might take advantage of the situation and hijack the planned protest to cause confusion.

He said media organisation leaders should reflect on the issue and consider cancelling the march or have an in-door meeting where they could discuss the issue of current attacks on some practitioners.

Mr Kunda said the Government did not want to build hatred against journalists because they were partners in development.

At the same meeting, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha said the media leaders should not condone fabrication of stories.

Lieutenant-General Shikapwasha cited the story by The Post newspaper in its Wednesday edition, which stated that the South African government was not aware about President Rupiah Bandas visit to that country.

He said at the time The Post was printing the story, Mr Banda was meeting with his counterpart, Jacob Zuma and wondered what the papers intentions were.

He said it was such actions which made people doubt the observance of media ethics in Zambia.

Home Affairs Minister, Lameck Mangani challenged the media to produce concrete evidence about their complaints of harassment instead of generalising the matter.

Zambia Union of Journalists general secretary, Chapadongo Lungu said the media bodies were currently consulting on the need to come up with an all-inclusive ethics enforcing body to which all practitioners would subscribe.

He said the media bodies would soon come up with a joint team to study the issue and come up with relevant recommendations.

Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia chairperson, Henry Kabwe said the planned peaceful demonstration by journalists was not about confrontation but to highlight their cause to the leaders and the public.

Times of Zambia

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