GOVERNMENT will not tolerate any attacks and harassment of media practitioners, Ministry of Information and Media Permanent Secretary Kennedy Kalunga has said.
Mr Kalunga, who offered to share his mobile phone number, says journalists are free to call him whenever they are being harassed by any person because of their job.
He said reports of any form of attack on journalists should be reported to his office for immediate action. Mr Kalunga said this yesterday when he officiated at the launch of a handbook on laws and regulations affecting freedom of expression, media freedom and digital rights.
“Please, raise a flag to the minister or myself and we will be able to move in immediately. even before the law enforcement agencies move in, we will be able to [do so].
“It’s sad for me to hear about that report here that we are still harassing journalists, which is unfair in the new dawn government. We are not supporting that. I will be able to engage the Inspector General of Police [Lemmy Kajoba] almost immediately if you are being harassed. We are not allowing that,” he said.
The handbook, which may be used as a training manual, has been published by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia chapter with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Internews through the Open Spaces Zambia project.
Mr Kalunga said Government has embarked on key policy and legal reforms aimed at widening the space for freedom of expression and freedom of the media.
“The reforms include the de control and de-regulation of the media so that they are free to set their own editorial and reportorial agenda. ”
Further, the reforms include enhancing safety of the media and the ongoing process to enact the Access to Information [law],” he said.
And MISA Zambia national director Austin Kayanda said the handbook highlights various laws and how they impact on media freedom and rights in the country.
“We have a friendly environment in Zambia that supports freedom of expression, media freedom, and Government and all stakeholders need to continuously work towards ensuring that the rights of journalists and other activists are not only recognized but strongly protected to guarantee them a safe operating environment,” he said.
USAID representative Charlene Bangwe said the handbook will help to promote and protect the freedom of expression and other media freedoms. Internews chief of party Teldah Mawarire urged MISA to make the handbook readily available and accessible for everyone’s benefit.