24 November 2012

Zambia: Pledge to Continue With Media Reforms

GOVERNMENT says it will continue with media reforms and ensure easy access to information in all parts of the country.

Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Kennedy Sakeni said the formulation and revision of policies would provide a conducive legal framework for the media fraternity in the country.

He was speaking in Parliament yesterday when he presented a policy statement for his ministry whose K91.1 billion allocation in the 2013 national Budget was approved.

"The ministry is working on the Access to Information Bill aimed at curtailing the culture of secrecy in the provision of services and management of public resources," he said.

Mr Sakeni said the ministry was determined to see a professional media that was able to deliver social and economic information to the public in a socially responsible manner.

He said the culture of secrecy promoted corruption in the public sector because people had no right to demand information on public funds.

He said by implementing the Access to Information law, the ministry would contribute to the fight against corruption.

The minister assured that the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) would become operational next year at Mass Media Complex and that K8 billion had been set aside for its operations.

Mr Sakeni said the ministry had been allocated K91.1 billion out of which K7.2 billion was for personal emoluments, K25 billion for digital migration, K22.2 billion for establishment of provincial broadcasting studios leaving a balance of K36.6 billion for other programmes.

He also said the ZNBC board would be in place in the first quarter of next year once Parliament ratified the nominees.

Mr Sakeni said the Government had allocated K2 billion for support to public media institutions.

The Minister said information remained a cross-cutting issue which supported developmental activities undertaken by all other sectors of the economy.

Without information, he said, the intended beneficiaries especially the rural masses would not meaningfully participate in Government development programmes.

He said the ministry acknowledged the need for decentralisation of the print media and provision of information in local languages.

He said the structure of the ministry had been re-aligned and equipped to respond to national issues while the ministry had also embarked on filling vacant and frozen positions at Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS).

He said the Government was massively investing in mobile video vans in various districts especially in rural areas where there was huge information gap and K1.5 billion was allocated to ZANIS to carry out the programme.

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