5 March 2013

Zambia: Parley Gets 300,000 Euros German Grant

THE German government has this year pledged to assist the Zambian National Assembly with 300,000 Euros for public awareness programmes.

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) programme manager Kathy Short said this during a workshop for members of Parliament (MPs) on public service broadcasting and media laws in Lusaka yesterday.

Ms Short said FES was undertaking the project of making operations of Parliament known to the public on behalf of the Development Bank of Germany.

"This year, we have set aside about 300,000 Euros which we are going to spend on all constituency offices to ensure that they have all the documents that they need in terms of making Parliament known to the public.

"We will be undertaking this project on behalf of the German Development Bank and the documents have already been signed by both the Zambian and German governments," she said.

She said the gesture was a demonstration of her organisation's commitment towards ensuring that the Zambian Parliament played a role in promoting checks and balances.

This will enable the public to be abreast with what the National Assembly was doing regarding parliamentary reforms.

Ms Short said FES was committed to working with the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Zambia and MPs in a bid to have media-friendly laws in Zambia.

She said the Zambian media was still operating under a restrictive and difficult environment because the current media laws had negatively impacted on practitioners' contribution to democracy.

"There can be no meaningful development without the free flow of information in an environment where the media operates freely.

"This meeting is, among things, aimed at creating awareness on the need to transform State media into true public media as well as lobby MPs to support the Access to Information Bill in the next session of Parliament," Ms Short said.

Officiating at the workshop, Deputy Speaker Mkhondo Lungu said the media in Zambia functioned as a tool for economic and social development.

Mr Lungu reminded the gathering that Zambia was in the process of enacting the Access to Information Bill, and in view of that, MISA-Zambia partnered with the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) and FES to organise the workshop to enlighten MPs.

"Allow me, as I conclude, to thank MISA-Zambia and its partners for the initiative to conduct this important workshop. Let me also state that educating members of Parliament on important issues like this is a sure way of enlightening the ordinary people at large," he said.

MISA -Zambia chairperson Nalumino Nalumino said in a speech read on his behalf by the institution's legal affairs board member Beatrice Mulamfu that the media mother body was hopeful that Government would honour its media law reforms pledges.

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