Lusaka constitution convention delegates want ZNBC to be public-owned

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The Lusaka provincial constitution consultative convention has amended article 38 of the draft constitution to transform state-owned media such as the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) to public owned media.

The convention has amended clause 4 (a) to remove state-owned and replaced with public owned so that it can read as all public owned media shall be free to determine independently the editorial content of their broadcasts or communications.

Delegates to the convention argued that in a democratic nation, the freedom of the press was cardinal but noted that in Zambia the national broadcaster, ZNBC operates as a state owned media.

Kabwata Member of Parliament Given Lubinda noted that there was need to introduce another clause to cater for a state owned media which will be distinct from the public owned media.

But Kellies Kaunda, a MISA representative, observed that the need to replace state-owned with public owned was in line with the revision of the ZNBC act.

Meanwhile, ZNBC Director of Finance Victor Nyasulu, who is also a delegate at the convention, clarified that the national broadcaster was owned by the state with the majority shareholdings belonging to government through the Ministry of Finance.

Mr. Nyasulu noted that based on the ownership of ZNBC, it has been operating as a state-owned media house although it was striving to serve the interest of the public.

He said amending the clause would further enable the media to serve the public better but did not clarify how the shareholding would be transferred from government to other stakeholders for it to be a public media.

And the Lusaka convention has retain with amendments, the access to information article of the draft constitution which states that citizens have the right to access information held by the state and information held by another person.

Meanwhile, the convention has retained article 35, clause 1 and 2 of the draft constitution on the freedom of religion and conscience.

The article states that a person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion and that a person has the right either individually or in a co