THE Government has assured that it will continue creating a conducive environment for a free, independent and professional media in the country.
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Mwansa Kapeya also said that the Access to Information Bill (AIB) was ready and would be tabled before Parliament in the next session in June.
Speaking at the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)’s 11th Annual Media Awards on Friday evening, Mr Kapeya said the Government took pleasure in helping in the growth of the media and enhancing professionalism.
“On its part, the Government has led the way in helping the media by creating a conducive environment for their operations,” he said.
He said that during MMD regime, the media operated under strict patronage but they were now free in their operations.
The deputy minister said the Patriotic Front (PF) Government had created the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) while offices for the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) were ready at the Mass Media Complex.
Mr Kapeya said recruitment of the IBA chief executive officer and support staff had reached an advanced stage.
He said the Government was happy to be associated with the MISA awards because they helped promote media freedom and professionalism.
Mr Kapeya said it was good that this year’s awards included coverage on children’s issues, capital markets, gender and telecommunications which were all important areas.
And Irish Embassy deputy head of mission Patrick McManus said his government welcomed the awards because citizens in a democracy used the media to air their views while leaders used them to communicate to the people.
Mr McManus said the media provided a voice for the voiceless and that the value of information should be highly appreciated.
He said the community media also played an important role and cited ‘Face the Media’ programme and the ‘Podium’ on Yatsani Radio as platforms used by leaders to communicate to the people.
McManus said Zambia was a vast country and the media provided the flow of information and acted as a watchdog on resource mobilisation while contributing to good governance.
Times of Zambia news editor Enoch Ngoma scooped the KR2,000 HIV/AIDS award, Sunday Times senior reporter Sylvester Mwale scooped the Best Coverage Award, Best Reporting on Capital Markets was won by Nkole Chitala of the Zambia Daily Mail, while the PEPFAR Anniversary Award was won by Times of Zambia features writer Gatesmane Mwizabi.