THE Media Association for Pure Self-Regulation says it has adopted a code of ethics and a draft constitution to form part of the self-regulatory mechanism.
And Civil Society Organizations representative Vusi Sifile says a media that is not regulated is a danger to itself and the society it serves.
Speaking during the launch of the Media Self-Regulation Code of Ethics, Wednesday, association Chairperson Kennedy Mambwe said the code of ethics and the draft constitution was developed after various consultative meetings.
“I wish to inform the nation through this media indaba that between February of this year and today, Media Association for Self-Regulation held consultative meetings with journalists from all the 10 provinces of Zambia. And the nation may wish to know further that all journalists who attended these consultative meetings opted for the route of self-regulation and further rejected the statutory route. And that’s why we have this indaba with journalists coming from all 10 provinces because they saw the need for the media to regulate itself. Apart from the consultative meetings that we have held in all the 10 provinces, a code of ethics was built as well as a draft constitution. I am happy to note that part of the morning session was for this indaba to scrutinize both the constitution and the code of ethics. And I am happy to report to the nation that the media persons, associations and stakeholders that met today unanimously adopted the code of ethics and the constitution to form part of the self-regulatory mechanism,’ he said.
Mambwe wondered why anyone would go to government to seek media regulation.
“Our coming together also drew comfort from government assurances that have been made times and again by our Head of State His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema as well as our own line minister honorable Chushi Kasanda who on several occasions has stated that the new dawn government does not want to regulate the media. If the government has said they do not want to regulate the media, I wonder then why anyone of us would wish to go and start pleading with the government to say please come to regulate us,” he said.
He disclosed that the ZAMEC Bill was withdrawn because some of its content was deemed inimical to media freedom.
“The goal to have the ZAMEC Bill withdrawn was informed after noting that some of its contents were deemed inimical to media freedom. It was observed that in the process of drafting that statutory regulatory bill, some clauses that were not coordinated by you colleagues in the media found themselves included in the bill. Those contentious clauses included the mandatory registration of individual journalists, meaning a journalist could not practice without obtaining a license and if found wanting, a journalist could be liable of a jail term of up to three years,’ said Mambwe.
“The bill also sought to isolate individual journalists from the media house where they work when dealing with matters of litigation. Therefore, the Media Association for Self-Regulation contented then as they do now that statutory regulation would have been punitive but could have not been the best option to cure unethical or unprofessional conduct in the media’.
And at the same event, Sifile said a media that was not regulated was a danger to itself and the society it served.
“For us as civil society organizations, media regulation is one of the most important aspects of effective functioning of the media. I think a media that is not regulated is a danger to itself and is also a danger to the society that it serves but also statutory regulation of the media is also a threat to freedom of the media. It limits the space in which the media can freely provide oversight in the functioning of our democracy. So, we join forces so that we can regulate ourselves, we can set the rules and put it to abide by them. So this is not just about a few organizations, it is about every one of us. So, each one of us who is here we can look at the bill adopted, and we need to take ownership that together we can contribute to uniting the media sector in Zambia,’ said Sifile.