|Republican President Edgar Chagwa Lungu|
Republican President Edgar Lungu has directed the Zambia Police to ensure they protect the media to enable them carry out their duties effectively by avoiding confrontation with media practitioners.
President Lungu, however, says that malice on the part of the media should not be encouraged as evidenced by false reports in certain sections of the media. The President says he is aware that some journalists work under very oppressive conditions and that he feels sorry for journalists whose editors are what he termed ‘dictators and despots’, usually distorting facts and reporting in the negative.
The head of state says he has respect for the media and wouldn’t ‘come down on them like a ton of bricks’ as Zambians are able to judge for themselves. He further states that had he been a draconian leader certain media houses would not be in existence but he has decided to ignore them so that they can ‘publish and be damned’ on their own.
The President has since called on journalists to be professional and of integrity, as it is up to the media to choose whether to be professional and that it is adherence to ethics that will make the media product sale as well as increase a particular media house’s credibility.
President Lungu also commended the ministry of Information through the Minister, Chishimba Kambwili, for ensuring the operationalisation of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to enhance the granting of broadcasting licences especially that the implementation of the IBA had been pending since 2002.
The President was speaking during a press briefing held at State House and televised live on national television this morning. The briefing is the second held by President Lungu since assuming office in January, 2015.
There has been concern expressed by various stakeholders over the increase in political violence especially in the build up to the August elections and alleged persecution of journalists by the state through what are seen to be arbitrary arrests in a legal environment that wields several laws inimical to the freedom of expression.
The 2015 Freedom House Freedom of the Press Report ranked Zambia as “not free”, scoring 62 under press freedom (where 100 was the worst score), 18 in the legal environment (where 30 was the worst), 25 in the political environment (where 40 was the worst) and 19 in the economic environment (where 30 was the worst).
Additionally, the country ranked 113th in the World on the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, well below other African countries such as Malawi, Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Kenya, Togo and Lesotho, among others.
Source: MISA Zambia
Picture courtesy of State House Press Office