CHAPTER One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde says the Access to Information Bill and the media self-regulation are separate issues and government should therefore not conflate them.

Justice Minister Mulambo Haimbe recently said Zambians should expect more progress on the enactment of the Access to Information Bill once the media resolves the issue of self-regulation.

In an interview, Kasonde said the media was merely one of the stakeholders involved in accessing and disseminating such information.

“Chapter One Foundation believes that the issue of enacting an Access to Information Bill, which is long overdue, and the issue of media self-regulation, are completely separate and distinct issues which need to be addressed as such. The Access to Information Bill relates to providing access to publicly held information to all citizens regarding matters that are of public interest,” she said.

Whilst they are an important stakeholder in bringing matters to the public’s attention, the media are merely one of the stakeholders involved in accessing and disseminating such information. Regarding further consultations on the ATI Bill, there are several problematic sections of the draft ATI Bill that need to be addressed in order for the Bill to achieve its intended purpose and further consultation is, definitely required”.

And Kasonde said media self-regulation related to how media practitioners would govern their profession.

“Media self-regulation on the other hand relates to how media practitioners will govern their profession. Chapter One Foundation is of the view that media self-regulation need not involve any legislation. Whilst we acknowledge the concerns of many members of the media about poor working conditions, statutory regulation is unlikely to address these issues sufficiently,” said Kasonde.

“Indeed, statutory regulation of the media poses a greater threat to media rights and freedoms than having no media regulations at all as it may be used as a tool by successive governments to control the media and thus inhibit freedom expression in Zambia which will impact all citizens. We hope that the government will reconsider its stance on conflating the two issues as, whilst both issues relate to the dissemination of information, neither issue is dependent on the other.”

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