Ministry of Media and information Permanent Secretary Kennedy Kalunga says it is taking too long for the media to reach consensus on how to regulate themselves.
Meanwhile the third and fourth state of the media report has revealed that several cases were recorded between July and December 2022 involving harassment of journalists by political cadres.
Speaking when he officiated at the launch of the third and fourth State of the Media Report in Lusaka, Thursday, Kalunga said the media’s continued existence without a formal and functional mechanism for self-regulation had serious effects on the profession.
“I take this opportunity to re-affirm the fact that the government recognizes the importance of a vibrant and independent media sector because of the critical role it plays in promoting transparency, accountability and the rule of law. The media is also an important catalyst for freedom of expression one of the fundamental tenets of a thriving democracy such as ours. The government is however, concerned that it is taking so long for the media fraternity to reach consensus on how to proceed with the self-regulation mechanisms by which the media practitioners in the country propose to regulate themselves professionally. I ought to stress that the medias continued existence without a formal and functional mechanism for self-regulation has a serious effect on the profession. The sooner the differences are resolved among themselves over this issue, the better for the media profession and the country at large,”Kalunga said.
He stressed the need to take the findings of the report seriously in Deeping the role of the media in governance.
“I note with delight that the reports have become an important mirror for evaluating, from time to time, our successes and challenges as a country, in growing the media industry. I urge all of us to take the findings of these reports seriously in deepening the role of the media in the governance and development of the country. In this regard, I note with happiness that the report highlights among other things, positive trends in the media sector in the year 2022,” He said.
According to the report, out of 92 cases on media freedom and freedom of expression recorded in 2022, the majority of them, about 68, were positive. Only 24 had an impact on media freedom and freedom of expression. This is a sign that the policy and legal environment that the government has created is impacting positively on the growth and development of the media. Kalunga, however, said there was still some work to be done to further strengthen the media.
“The positive developments also include abolishing of the death penalty and defamation of the President provisions in the law by His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema as well as the review of the Public Order Act and Cybersecurity and cyber–Crimes Act. The government has also made tremendous progress towards the enactment of the access to information bill. This is however, not to say, we have arrived as a country as far as the development of the media industry is concerned, not at all, there is still work to do to reform and reposition the media sector so that it plays its full and rightful role in national development,” he said.
“As stated in the report, challenges pertaining to the legal framework concerning the media still exist and it is the government’s commitment to continue addressing such and other issues in collaboration with stakeholders such as MISA. In this regard, it may interest you to note that as a Ministry, we are in the process of embarking on the review of the media development policy to bring it in line with current trends in the media sector, nationally and internationally”.
Meanwhile, according to report findings, several cases were recorded between July and December 2022 involving harassment of Journalists by political cadres.
“It is sad to state that many aspects of the above narrative detailing past occurrences of journalists being physically or verbally attacked by cadres seem not to be fading but rather appeared to only hibernate and resurfaced when hot, topical governance or developmental matters occurred in the country. Several cases were recorded in the period under review (ie July to December 2022) that involved incidents of clashes between state interests and journalists including political interest and journalists’ interests. In the period under review, four cases involving journalists from 3FM, Pasme, Kokoliko and Mafken were recorded,” read full report.
“As part of the report study, the researcher engaged the affected media houses or journalists to gain insight into what happened, what inspired these attacks, how they have affected them and if at all culprits were brought to book. Further, the researcher also engaged the Zambia Police to seek their intervention in relation to this phenomenon. In the same breath, the research also recorded some notable clashes between the media and Zambia Police.