THE Government is in the process of establishing ways of protecting the media from physical harassment, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) Joseph Katema has disclosed.
Dr Katema said Government did not condone harassment of journalists and assured the state and stakeholders would come up with measures to protect the media from being harassed.
The minister was speaking when he delivered a keynote speech after launching the 1st and 2nd Quarter Reports on the state of the media in Zambia produced by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA).
“We want to find better ways of protecting our journalists. In an event of a fracas where cadres are fighting, police find it difficult to tell who is from the media.
“The police would not know who is who so we are considering giving you some clothing to wear to help identify you when you are covering protests and rallies among other things, an example is the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) they can be identified as opposed to the media who are usually civil,” he said.
He said harassment was unacceptable as it was criminal no matter the perpetrator and described battlefields as a professional hazard to the media fraternity.
Dr Katema said Government would engage the necessary authorities and that it recently held talks with MISA to meet the challenge.
He challenged the media to embrace the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) as the press had received it with a lukewarm reception.
He said the birth of ZAMEC was one of the landmark developments towards the attainment of a free and independent media in the country.
On the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), he said he would soon announce the Board as Government had operationalised it after lying on the shelf for 10 years under the previous regime.
Dr Katema reaffirmed Government’s commitment to the enactment of the Access to Information Bill saying it would be presented before the Legislative Committee of Cabinet in the coming weeks.
MISA Zambia Chairperson, Hellen Mwale praised Government for enabling the media to have a self regulatory body ZAMEC, for the continuation of issuing braodcast licences continue and practice of journalism that was not restricted with regard to entry.
Ms Mwale called on Government to hasten the media law reforms and the amendment of the Penal Code and State Secrets Act as they infringed on media freedom, freedom of expression and the right to access to information.
Times of Zambia