Defamatory remarks worries minister
Chipata, March 1, ZANI —–Information Deputy Minister Forrie Tembo has expressed concern over some media houses that he noted to have continued to allow politicians to use them to insult and promote violence.
Mr Tembo said though government has no intentions to interfere in the operations of the media, journalists should be professional and ensure they report factually and objectively to help develop the country as opposed to inciting violence.
Mr Tembo said this when he toured Breeze FM radio station in Chipata today.
“The media should be used to unite people not to incite violence, promote regionalism and tribalism which have become hot issues, we need to promote culture and address Gender Based Violence among other issues through the media,” he said.
Mr Tembo also observed that violence against journalists is usually a result of biased reporting by some media houses who do not want to abide by ethical standards.
He charged that some journalists have been posting defamatory stories about the government to social media.
“They do this even when they know that it is not professional and such stories have a potential to bring anarchy among people in the country,” he said.
Mr Tembo disclosed that government intends to support local radio stations saying a proposal has been made and is yet to be taken to cabinet for approval before it is tabled in parliament.
He also observed that local radio stations have challenges that hinder them from managing their operations hence the government’s intention to help address the challenges.
“Government will endeavour to provide an enabling environment for the media to flourish as we realize that the media is a partner in development,” he said.
The Deputy Minister also disclosed that government intends to help sort out the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) challenges to enable the institution carryout its mandate of information dissemination efficiently.
Mr Tembo who visited radio stations and other media houses in Chipata district in Eastern Province observed that ZANIS department is ill equipped in many districts hence the need to provide equipment.
He noted that government has not paid much attention to the institution in the districts and stated that it is now in the process of providing equipment that will help improve information dissemination especially in rural areas where people do not have equal access to information.
Meanwhile, Breeze FM Director Mike Daka said inconsistent power supply by ZESCO has been the biggest challenge for the radio station to operate efficiently.
“It is expensive because we have to buy generators and those generators need fuel almost on a daily basis, this inconsistent supply has also led to damage to some of our equipment and in some cases we are off air,” said Mr Daka.
Mr Daka also noted that government departments have been adamant to pay for radio programs, forcing his station to seek sponsorship for developmental agendas from international partners.
“We produce a number of programs most of which benefit government as the programs are meant to discuss the developmental issues by government, I think it would be better for government departments to sponsor some of these programs because it is expensive to produce a program,’ he said.
And Feel Free radio Station Manager Jacklyn Mtoleka charged that tribalism is being promoted by political figures, adding that the politicians should desist from issuing tribal remarks in their campaigns.
Ms Mtoleka wondered why tribalism has suddenly taken centre stage in Zambians when the 73 ethnic tribes have been living peacefully all along.
Ms Mtoleka has since appealed to government to guarantee protection of the media if it is to operate professionally.
She stated that media freedom will help promote professionalism as opposed to some media practitioners who have been targets of violence by some sectors.