Columnists

Zambian journalists get distinction for water coverage in 2017

PATSON Phiri.

Analysis: PATSON PHIRI
ONE of my inherent weaknesses is that I find it very hard to lift my nerves and start praising anyone for any good thing they might have accomplished.

My strength is in the field of providing a critic of anyone’s work and I am not ashamed to say this.
I am not the kind of person who will suddenly wake up showering praises on people and end the day lifting another human being for every scratch of success they have recorded.
This is not a fashioned weakness that I can erase easily. Neither is it something for which I can invite counsel from anyone and hoping that I can change.
I simply have a challenge to carelessly praise people for whatever small good they do. In many instances, I have fallen short of admitting that daily successes being recorded by people is a way of life and should be done without notice.
Let’s face it, sometimes we praise people for doing what they are employed to do. Where I come from, there is a common saying that ‘society judges man by the work that his hand does.’
Now the type of work being described in that saying is not that ordinary daily activity that a person is expected to play by virtue of their skill, profession or specialty. People must only be praised for that extraordinary touch that is not very usual among the professional or skilled peers.
However, there are times when gravity against such an ego overpowers you. As such, the need to drop that weakness and offer praise becomes overwhelmingly high.
Time comes where one cannot afford to offer further resistance. This is the case with the exemplary performance that has been achieved by Zambian journalists in reporting the water story and my ego has fallen ill.
I am coming from a background where water, environment and the rest of the not-so-hard news received no coverage in many newspapers for unknown reasons.
I know someone out there would argue that water has been given so much attention because of cholera but that is not entirely true. From the start of 2017 and slightly before, Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company, Millennium Challenge Account Zambia (MCAZ) have seen an increase in the incidents of stories receiving more attention from media houses. There was no cholera in early 2017.
The creation of the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection even helped to increase the intensity of the coverage of the water story.
This is why my strange behaviour of refusing to praise people has lately come under severe threat. My attempt to resist is hereby defeated with ease.
Hardly an hour passes without receiving a phone call from media houses seeking clarification on many matters pertaining to the management of water.
This is as it should be. Water is a source of everything. The economy, human life, construction, mining, food and everything else are dependent on water. As such, unpacking the story about water means writing about the real issues affecting everyone in the country.
So the Zambian journalists have over-scored in this difficult area of reporting water. They have defeated a general notion that the water story is a boring one that does not connect with the masses.
I praise you media workers collectively and singularly for scaling down politics and dedicating your energy towards water. Your dedication to this story is a direct response to the challenges faced by women and children who are a true reflection of these challenges. They are the interface of poverty. These are more interested in water stories than politics.
If I were your lecturer, you would all take home a distinction for reporting a story generally regarded as difficult. It is through your writing that women and children have started taking precautions on how to prevent cholera. Your extraordinary reporting has informed masses that there is cholera and they need to interact with clean water for them to prevent it.
Collectively and singularly, you are the best Christmas that came a bit late. Society must celebrate you. You are very much part of the water sector through your massive dedication to the water story. I am hereby placing high premium on your quality of work and distinction is your portion. My verdict is final. Thank you.
The author is manager – marketing and public relations for Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company.

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