Emmanuel Mwamba wants serious media

Emmanuel Mwamba
Emmanuel Mwamba

MINISTRY of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Emmanuel Mwamba has urged the public media to shift their focus from “petty issues” to serious matters that will help boost economic development, foster unity and slash poverty.
And African Parliamentarians Against Corruption (APNAC) chairperson Cornelius Mweetwa has appealed to the Patriotic Front government to keep its promise of taking the Access to Public Information (ATI) Bill to Parliament for scrutiny in this session.
The two—Mr Mwamba and Mr Mweetwa—shared a platform on Radio Phoenix’s Let the people Talk programme in Lusaka yesterday were various issues of national importance for both the ruling party, the opposition and civil society were thrashed out.
Mr Mwamba said the media should refocus on the plight of people such as poverty and unemployment and highlight solutions that Government is providing to its people.
“My primary focus as Information permanent secretary with regard to the public media is to shift debate from meaningless debate to meaningful debate; from petty issues to substance; from issues that are irrelevant to the people to issues that can make a meaningful change to our people, while reducing poverty,” said Mr Mwamba.
Mr Mwamba said Government is implementing a lot of development projects and initiatives that are meant to alleviate poverty. He gave an example of the 160 health posts being erected nationwide, universities and the labour intensive road works such as Link Zambia 8,000 and Pave Zambia 2,000 to mention but a few.
He also urged the media to focus on issues that will build the country rather than that which would polarize society.
He said for many years, the media has focused on issues that divide the country, a trait he wants to help stop.
“Issues that divide us as a nation are not worth the space they have been getting, especially on the online media that has clearly been abused by unprofessional individuals…we must focus on issues that unite us as a country,” Mr Mwamba said.
He advised the public media to ‘interrogate’ President Sata’s speech to the national assembly as it has set the tone on what is likely to be contained in the national budget when it is presented on October 11.
“I would like the public media to engage our people on their views about the Presidential speech. It should not be left to parliamentarians,” he said.
Mr Mwamba also said the media should help the country to learn lessons from past mistakes and help it build on its strength and unity.
He encouraged the public media to cover events throughout the country instead of concentrating on certain areas.
He also said Government is not interested in closing down any community radio station but to expand the industry and promote professionalism.
“For example, the case of Nevers Mumba [MMD president] where he appeared at police…I listened to that interview on Joy FM. If the moderator had done his job, probably Nevers Mumba would not be in the trouble he is,” he said.
Mr Mwamba also said Government will embrace online media technology and will work with the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication to co-ordinate all training programmes.
Speaking on the same programme, Mr Mweetwa said Government promised that the ATI bill would be presented to Parliament this year, which it should honour.
He said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services has been assuring Parliament that the bill would be presented before the end of the year.
He said when the bill is passed; it would enhance the fight against corruption and improve the management and protection of public resources.
But Mwamba said if passed now, the bill would come in conflict with other pieces of legislation. He said the office of the Attorney-General asked the ministry to commission a consultant to give an opinion on this matter.
Mr Mweetwa also praised the appointment of Mr Mwamba, saying he had lots of energy to inject into the ministry.
And Press Association of Zambia executive secretary Patson Phiri said the transformation in the operations of Zambia News and Information Services will provide a platform for people in rural areas to be heard at national level.