ALVIN CHIINGA & KALUNGA MUSONDA
VETERAN politician Vernon Mwaanga has prodded journalists to uphold their duty of keeping political and other leaders in check.
In a statement on World Press Freedom Day yesterday, Dr Mwaanga said that it is the role of the media to defend the interests of the people.
â€œThe press must objectively report and defend the integrity of truth without fear or favour no matter how inconvenient and irritating it may be,â€ he said.
Dr Mwaanga also urged journalists to use World Press Freedom Day to reflect their role in the country and the world.
â€œThe media is an important and critical instrument in informing, educating and entertaining our citizens. It has an inescapable duty to keep political and other leaders in check,â€ he said.
Dr Mwaanga said journalists should reject threats on their work regardless of costs to self.
He, however, noted that journalists worldwide work in unfavourable environments that prevent them from performing their duties in a free atmosphere.
He said journalism is a hazardous profession which has claimed lives of journalists who have been imprisoned or facing trial for defending the integrity of truth.
â€œMy thoughts are with them on this day and with their families. Press freedom and democracy are inseparable allies and are like Siamese twins and all of us must support them as they report the news truthfully,â€ he said.
In Kabwe, journalists temporarily put their pens down to clean a childrenâ€™s ward at Kabwe General Hospital to commemorate World Press Freedom Day.
Speaking after making a donation of assorted cleaning materials, Non-Governmental organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) central and eastern region coordinator Pascal Kambafwile said it was good to see journalists giving a service to the sick.
He said NGOCC was happy to partner with the Kabwe Press Club in cleaning the childrenâ€™s ward and making a donation of cleaning materials.
â€œSo many things cannot take place without the media. The media has been very instrumental in ensuring that justice, equity and equality prevail,â€ Mr Kambafwile added.
He said the gesture by the media was a wake-up call on the private sector to partner with KGH management in areas of need and contribute to enhancing healthcare service delivery.
KGH nurse-in-charge, Harriet Beele commended journalists for cleaning the ward, saying children need to be treated in a clean environment.
â€œEven that interaction with them as you were cleaning the ward makes the children feel at ease. Mothers were also happy because sometimes you need someone to talk to when you are nursing a child,â€ Ms Beele said.
Kabwe Press Club president Chambo Ngâ€™uni said journalists should not just take pride in sourcing stories from their communities, but should render a helping hand where they can.
â€œAs we were cleaning, we also saw some areas of need in the hospital, so we will encourage other organisations to come in and help,â€ Mr Ngâ€™uni said
And Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) executive secretary Patson Phiri said World Press Freedom Day is a big day and journalists must turn out in large numbers for commemorative activities today, report CHALI MULENGA and STEVEN MVULA
Patriotic Front director of media and publicity Brian Hapunda said the ruling party will continue to respect and protect the rights of journalists as they carry out their work.
â€œJournalists must be protected from being oppressed in any way by anyone. We want them to work freely,â€ Mr Hapunda said.
He said his party will support journalists in their endeavour to promote democracy.
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema said his party is committed to seeing a free and vibrant press because it is essential to the growth of democracy.
In the tourist capital, members of the Livingstone Press Club took time to plant trees at the civic centre and at a park near Chanters Lodge as part of their commemorative activities.
Livingstone Press Club president Brian Hatyoka called on journalists to be proactive in protecting the environment.
Mr Hatyoka said journalists were part of society therefore should participate in tree planting exercise apart from just writing stories on deforestation.
He also urged journalists to ensure that they get first-hand information whenever they report on issues.
ALVIN CHIINGA & KALUNGA MUSONDA