4 May 2018

Zambia: 'Media Freedom Key'

The Patriotic Front (PF) Government is committed to creating a favourable environment for both the private and public media to operate in the country, Southern Province Permanent Secretary Mwangala Liomba has said.

Mr Liomba said Government's support of the media was in line with the PF manifesto which stated that "a free media is a cornerstone of democracy".

He said this in Livingstone yesterday in a speech read for him by Southern Province deputy Permanent Secretary Kennedy Mubanga during the world press freedom day celebrations hosted by the Livingstone Press Club.

"We believe that media freedom is key in promoting democracy and development in the country.

Currently, Zambia has more than 100 radio stations as well as more than 50 television stations and many newspapers, are giving diverse information to the public. This has only been made possible under the PF government. This was not the case in the past since 1964 when we attained independence," Mr Liomba said.

He said in its continuous efforts to take information closer to people, the PF Government had embarked on the construction of provincial broadcasting studios in all 10 provinces.

Mr Liomba urged the media to be ethical and responsible in their reporting as press freedom was did not mean that journalists should write anything they wished to write.

He also commended the Livingstone Press Club for the project of grooming young journalists in secondary schools of southern province as well as for the recent introduction of journalism and public relations training in Livingstone, Southern Province in partnership with the Zambia institute of mass communications (ZAMCOM).

He also said the Government was committed to promoting enhanced access to information to enable the public make informed decisions.

Livingstone Press Club president Brian Hatyoka appealed to the Government to speed up the process of tabling the ATI bill in parliament so that it could be enacted into law.

Mr Hatyoka, who is also Times of Zambia - Livingstone Bureau Chief, said the ATI would benefit the Government as well as journalists and other stakeholders in terms of having access to quality information for them to make informed decisions.

"We appreciate the efforts being made to condemn such people through media statements, but this is not enough. We feel stiffer measures must be put in place to set an example to would-be perpetrators. As Journalists, we should be left to do our job independently and professionally without any intimidation or attacks," he said.

Mr Hatyoka also said the Livingstone Press Club did not support any form of online regulation adding that regulating what was published online would work against media freedom.

Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) Livingstone acting chairperson Nyambe Mutete urged the media to shun political parties which wanted to use them for political mileage and selfish gain.

Mr Mutete said FODEP would continue to support and advocate for laws which provided an enabling environment for the media.

In Chipata, the Government said it will respect the rights of the media practitioners in the country.

Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu said the media is vital in a number of areas, especially in the development of the country.

Chipata Central Member of Parliament(MP), who is also Sport,Youth and Child Development Minister Moses Mawere said he appreciated and regarded journalists as partners in the nation's developmental agenda.

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