Zambia: Media Demands Level Playing Field

THE media fraternity in Zambia has called for a level playing field and responsible reporting as practitioners celebrated the World Press Freedom Day across the country.

Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia acting chairperson John Chola said Press freedom was not negotiable and urged Government to quickly fully operationalise the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act and enact the Access To Information (ATI) Bill.

Mr Chola observed that the public media had improved and was fairly covering views from opposition political parties.

Mr Chola said in Lusaka most Africa countries like Zambia had re-democratised without putting in place sufficient legislation that empowered citizens to fully take part in the governance processes.

"The front page is no longer a preserve of the ruling party and Government's and this goodwill has been seen even in the media law reforms," Mr Chola said.

This year's local theme is 'Safety for Journalists and Media Workers', while the global theme is 'Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media.'

Chairperson of the 2013 World Press Freedom Day organising committee Patson Phiri said the Zambian Media Council (ZAMEC) would begin to hear cases in the next three months.

Mr Phiri urged the Government to put in place safeguards through legislation that would protect the media from harassment.

He said as part of the commemoration the organising committee in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity handed over a house to a 57-year-old woman of Kamanga Township in Lusaka where the celebrations took place.

Information and Broadcasting Services Kennedy Sakeni said there was no reason for journalists not to report objectively.

Mr Sakeni, who graced this year's World Press Freedom Day in Lusaka, said that was because the PF Government was implementing media reforms it promised to undertake.

"The IBA is now operational, the public media has been freed to set their own reportorial and editorial agenda professionally, the result is that Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and ZNBC have now become highly attractive," Mr Sakeni said.

Meanwhile, JULIUS PHIRI reports that Chipata Press Club board chairperson Raymond Banda appealed to journalists to be proactive in reporting issues affecting the people.

Mr Banda said the Government should continue giving broadcasting operating licences to media houses without unnecessary delays.

Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Bert Mushala said journalists should always exercise responsible journalism.

In Livingstone, Livingstone Press Club president Brian Hatyoka commended delegates to the recently held National Constitution Convention for adopting Article 38 (1) on freedom of the media in the draft Zambian Constitution.

Mr Hatyoka said the move would go a long way in promoting freedom in the media in line with this year's theme.

ETAMBUYU SANG'ANDU reports from Kitwe that Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge said access to information was good for sustainable development of the nation because it led to prudent management of resources.

Mr Musenge said promoting access to information was the only way to solve problems of mismanagement of resources.

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