Zambia's media fraternity has been assured that plans to introduce a law to curb cybercrime is meant to protect citizens and not infringe on freedom of expression.
Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya said in Kitwe yesterday the cyber laws are not meant to clamp down on journalists, but protect the media and enhance professionalism as well as protect the public from false information.
Officiating at events to mark World Press Freedom Day in Kitwe Ms Siliya said cyber laws as proposed by the Government through the ministry of Transport and Communication, in conjunction with her ministry, would help bring to book people that were involved in cybercrime.
The event was held under the global theme, "Keeping power in check, media, justice and rule of law".
She in a world where so much business and social interaction was taking place via cyberspace, the planned cyber laws were meant for the good of all citizens many of whom had been scammed by online fraudsters.
The internet, for all its potential for great good, was being used by people masquerading as journalists and peddling fake news and hate speech and the Government wanted to protect the public from such people.
She said people were posting a lot of information on social media -which was their democratic right to do - but it was, however, important to ensure that journalism as a product was protected.
"The media plays a critical role in society as it checks the excesses that may arise in the three arms of Government. It monitors the power of Government and other powers that may exist economically or socially," she said.
She said the country had made great efforts in according the media a conducive environment to operate in.
Ms Siliya, a journalist herself, also urged media practitioners to be patriotic and evaluate themselves and prevent the industry from being infiltrated by masquerades.
"The media has become so polarised as we have become more involved and engaged in politics as players rather that observers. Political polarisation is not a good indication of the role the media plays. It is better to regulate yourselves like other professions, in order to protect your own profession," she said.
On self-regulation, the Chief Government spokesperson, said it was easy for the Government to control an industry such as the media, but it was giving it leeway to regulate itself and submit to the Government what ideas it had, for moving the matter ahead.
In Lusaka, her speech was read for her by her acting Permanent Secretary Isaac Chipampe.
At the same Kitwe occasion, Media Liaison Committee chairperson Enock Ngoma said plans were underway to revive the Zambia Media Council to ensure that the media regulated itself.
Mr Ngoma said it was unfortunate that the media fraternity had been flooded with a lot of unprofessional and untrained people calling themselves journalists and tarnishing the fraternity.
Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) president Andrew Sakala has urged media owners to play a role in enforcing media ethics.
Mr Sakala said media owners must come up with various incentives that would motivate journalists so that they were less susceptible to compromise.
He said journalists tended to be influenced by bribes because of lack of proper remuneration and conditions of services.