POLITICIANS and journalists should learn to co-exist in the development process, says World Press Freedom Organizing Committee chairperson Henry Kabwe.
During the tree planting exercise held at the First Republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda residence in Lusaka’s State Lodge area as part of activities to mark this year’s World Press Freedom Day, Kabwe said media bodies were concerned about the continued harassment of journalists by politicians.
“For Zambia there are various factors that we need to put in place for journalists to be safe. First of all politicians must sensitize their cadres to ensure that they do not attack journalists because they are basically conveyors of information. So if a journalist is conveying about a political structure, it is not necessarily that the journalist is involved in that process,” he said.
Kabwe said some political parties leaders had a misconception that certain media houses were not objective in their news coverage.
“There is this assumption by cadres that the media that bring out certain information are against a particular political establishment. We are trying to sensitize presidents of political parties to ensure that they educate their cadres to relate well with journalists,” he said.
“We have watched wars in other countries where rebels are fighting against government troops but they do not attack journalists. It is actually that in a democratic country like Zambia we can have cases where journalists are attacked which is very unfortunate.”
And Kabwe said the organizing committee for this year’s World Press Freedom celebrations dubbed, ‘safety of journalists against impunity’ slated for May 3, had lined up a number of activities.
“We have engaged politicians first of all we are going to play a match together, so that we can strengthen the relationship and be able to remind each other that we should co-exist and we need each other. For the politicians they need the media to air the information and we also need them for stories,” he said.
“The apart from that we will have a media breakfast with the Zambia police service where we are going to air our views in terms of the habit by the police to harass the media which has been quite recurrent in the recent past. Thereafter we are going to have our own sports tournament where we are going to compete for prizes and as usual we are going to have the stakeholders’ conference before we match on 3rd May.”
And Dr Kaunda said the media had a role to play in national development.
“When the press come to plant trees here or wherever, it is a rare wonderful thing for Zambia. Tree planting is an important exercise in terms of development. Because where we see deserts growing, whenever we see destruction of trees and everything else. Unless we human beings East, West, North and South are able to do something about vegetation, we are in trouble. I am grateful that young press men and women can come here to plant trees. It is more important in that you do that also elsewhere to guide the nation,” said Dr Kaunda.