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ROBBIE musakuzi.

Zambian media: One Zambia, Two Nations

IN TIMES like these, the Zambian people at home and abroad try to find out the truth about what is really happening in their country, so that they can make sound judgement and decisions they are confronted by a

Zambian  local public and private electronic and print media that is painting two contrasting versions of Zambia.  The public media on one hand gives a version of a stable Zambia with the government and political leadership of the day in full control of the social, economic, political and security of the country while on the other handsome private media and social websites present a version of Zambia in turmoil where chaos and political instability is the order of the day and a government and leadership that has lost control and direction.
Surely, gentlemen and ladies in both the public and private media, you can be professional enough and do a better job than what is currently obtaining.  There is only. One Zambia and One Nation and the people of Zambia are not blind and can see clearly the prevailing true version of Zambia. Those Zambians responsible for informing, educating and entertaining the people of Zambia through their media reports must realise they have a huge responsibility at the end of the day of uniting the people of Zambia in the midst of differences here and there. In Bemba, they say ‘Ichalo tachitalala ngo musunga’. This emergence in some Zambian private and social media of always trying to sensationalise and turn individual personal issues and differences into national issues does not augur well for our country. A responsible media house should always communicate and promote unity, peace and security for the interest of the whole nation regardless of the situation.
Zambia as a country is not in turmoil as some individuals in the private print and electronic media would like to portray the situation. Zambia is one of those very few countries that are socially and politically stable in a generally very unstable continent. It has a government and a leadership in place which has a vision and has taken the lead in implementing a social and economic development agenda for the people of Zambia with its own unique strategy. What the Zambian government needs right now is a responsible public and private print and electronic media that gives its audience information, whether negative or positive in a manner that does not create anger, tension and division in the country.
The private media houses must appreciate that the levels of ignorance and illiteracy amongst Zambians are still very high and some might not have the capacity to critically analyse the information they receive in a positive way. It is a common fact that high levels of ignorance and illiteracy produces blind followers, extremists and demagogues who become a danger to a country. It is, therefore, important for both the private and public media to be mindful of all this and exercise some self-regulation and to resist the temptation of reporting the opinion of an individual or group of individuals as a representation of millions of Zambians.
Lest we forget, Zambia is a third world developing country and therefore some media editorial policies and way of presenting information to the public which might be acceptable and understood very well in industrialised and developed western countries might just sow seeds of disunity, hate and confusion amongst innocent Zambians. These are basic journalist facts taught to every individual who has attended any college or university course in journalism. As a third world country, the Zambian nation is crying for social, economic and political development which can only take place when supported by a foundation of initiatives such as macro-economic stability, innovative development strategy, an inward flow of investment, governance reform, development of infrastructure, energy production, a fair taxation system and a democratic system of governance that is issue-based, people-centred, result-oriented and accountable to the people.
It is the duty of both the public and private print media to help politicians in Zambia to create this national foundation of initiatives which transcends individual political party leaders, party manifestos and agenda.  It is, therefore, wrong and irresponsible for any print and electronic media house to sensationalise and divide the Zambian people by using various superficial stereotypes and differences which have no relevance and place in our country that was founded on the motto of ‘One Zambia One Nation’. Social, political and economic development in any country can only take place when citizens of the country are united and have faith and trust in the government and leadership of the day.
The Zambian government like all African governments across the continent face a very big challenge of trying to change the mindset of their citizens to understand that real social and economic development and progress is possible under the leadership of Africans themselves if only the African people can get rid of the vices of tribalism, nepotism, blind political loyalty and regionalism. It is, therefore, unfortunate and a disaster to have in the country a print and electronic media house that establishes an editorial reputation that encourages citizens to lose faith in their government and political leadership of the day.
The author, Robbie Musakuzi, is an international associate, African Centre for Disaster Studies