CHIMWEMWE MWALE & SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Livingstone
JOURNALISTS in various parts of Zambia yesterday celebrated World Press Freedom Day with Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Kampamba Mulenga saying Government is in the process of formulating the national information and media policy to guide the growing media industry.
Ms Mulenga also said Government will soon convene a national media forum where journalists and other stakeholders will discuss the state of the Zambian media.
She was speaking in Livingstone during commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day held under the theme ‘Critical minds for critical times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive society.’
“These and other measures represent Government’s desire and determination to enhance the free flow and public access to information, a pre-requisite for achieving sustainable socio-economic development,” Ms Mulenga said.
She said it is disappointing that some online media outlets are abusing the conducive environment Government has created by pursuing private agendas through high levels of unethical and unprofessional conduct, including hate speech.
“This is unprofessional and unacceptable conduct from which all media practitioners worth the profession should desist. Otherwise as Government, we recognise the fact that if well used, online publishers can be useful enablers of public access to information.
“It is, therefore, Government’s expectation that using platforms such as the World Press Freedom Day, the media can review and renew its commitment to upholding its ethical and professional obligations to society,” she said.
In Lusaka, Minister of Justice Given Lubinda said Government will continue to promote press freedom but will not condone media houses that abrogate the law under the guise of freedom of the press, reports CHOMBA MUSIKA.
And Mr Lubinda said the enactment of the Access to Information Bill is underway.
Mr Lubinda said Government will continue to promote a free press which operates within the confines of the law.
He was responding to World Press Freedom Day organising committee secretary David Banda who expressed concern over the suspension of broadcasting licences for some media houses in the run-up to last year’s general elections.
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation director-general Irina Bokova called on journalists to sharpen their minds and enjoy the freedoms that promote justice and peace.
Independent Broadcasting Authority director-general Josephine Mapoma commended Mr Lubinda for consistently promoting freedom of the press.
In Kitwe, MELODY MUPETA reports that district commissioner Binwell Mpundu assured journalists that Government will protect them against any form of abuse.
Mr Mpundu said the media is an important tool that can be used to disseminate objective and unbiased information, which can bring about development in the country.
And Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga implored journalists to set a development agenda by reporting on development issues, reports KALUNGA MUSONDA in Kabwe.
Mr Mushanga said journalists should also report on issues that affect society to keep the nation informed on current happenings.
In Mongu, ELIZABETH CHATUVELA reports that Western Province deputy permanent secretary Bernard Chomba called on media personnel in the area to be professional as they execute their duties.
Mr Chomba said journalists should always avoid putting across information that can create confusion in the province.
And Eastern Province permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo appealed to political parties that owe media houses money to ensure that they settle the debt, reports MAYENGO NYIRENDA in Chipata.
Mr Kasolo said it is difficult for media houses in the province to operate without money.
“I’m aware that some political parties owe media houses a lot of money for the adverts aired in the run-up to the August 11 general elections last year and I appeal to them to pay,” he said.