—Information and Broadcasting Minister Kennedy Sakeni has reiterated government’s commitment to creating a more favourable media atmosphere, saying government is open to dialogue with all stakeholders.
And the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter has launched a study report on the media laws and policies in Zambia which will act as a basis for recommendations of media law reforms.
Speaking during the launch of the report on media laws and policeis in Lusaka today, Mr Sakeni assured MISA that his ministry will take into account the findings and recommendations of the study as government reviews the media and information policy.
Mr Sakeni noted that the report has made specific conclusions and recommendations of the study on Zambian media related laws and that the laws should be repealed as they are a danger to journalism.
The Information Minister, who is also government spokesperson, said the report is timely as government has started the process of transforming the Patriotic Front manifesto pronouncements into a government policy framework which includes outlined policy directions on media and information.
He called for dialogue over the issue before government would commit itself as it wants to see a more professional and ethical media that is able to apply self regulation.
“Our firm conviction is that if our journalists become more ethical and professional, they will not worry about media laws as a journalist who is ethical cannot be intimidated by laws that forbid publication of false news, “said Sakeni.
He further said there cannot be absolute freedom to one entity without it curtailing the freedom of others and, therefore, the need for the law to set boundaries and offer guidelines.
Speaking earlier, MISA Chairperson, Nalumino Nalumino, said the report outlines practical evidence of factors affecting media reforms in Zambia bordering on two fundamental freedoms of expression and access to information.
Mr Nalumino, who expressed confidence that government will address the issues brought out in the report, however, expressed worry with the delay in the enactment of the Access to Information (ATI) Bill.
Meanwhile, Ambassador, European Union (EU) Delegation in Zambia, Gilles Hervio, said freedom and pluralism of the media play a pivotal role in policy development which is a foundation of democracy.
Mr Havio reaffirmed the EU’s vision to seeing sufficient protection of the media in Zambia in offering checks and balances and the promotion of freedom of expression and increased ability for citizens to hold their leaders accountable.
The study report on media laws and policies in Zambia was sponsored by EU and Diakonia and was conducted by Eustace Nkandu a Senior lecturer at the University of Zambia.