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MLC challenges media to be independent

• Media houses and journalists must heed to the Presidential challenge by becoming truly independent.
• IBA’s mandate and roles should be clearly spelt out.
• MLC pledges to conclude the media self-regulation framework.

Media Liaison Committee (MLC) has challenged the media fraternity in the country to become truly independent in line with President Hakainde Hichilema’s call for an independent and free media.
Committee Chairperson Enock Ngoma further urged media houses and journalists including those that operate online to heed to the Presidential challenge by becoming truly independent.
“The MLC notes and acknowledges that this pronouncement comes from the Head of State and therefore must be taken seriously,” Mr. Ngoma said.
Mr. Ngoma stated that the Committee will conclude the media self-regulation framework by ensuring that the draft Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) Bill is quickly enacted into law.
He noted that before the previous Parliament was dissolved, Committee had submitted the draft ZAMEC Bill to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services who also forwarded it to the Ministry of Justice.
Mr. Ngoma is hopeful that with the good will so far shown by the new government, the process will soon be conclude and see the Bill enacted into law.
“On May 10, 2019, the media fraternity met in Lusaka and unanimously agreed to adopt a statutory self-regulation model which suits the prevailing media environment in Zambia. The over 300 media personnel also agreed that ZAMEC be recognised as law, as the body in charge of media regulation under the auspices of the Media Liaison Committee.”
“When the Bill was ready to be taken to Parliament, the MLC differed with the then Minister of Justice over some clauses that were not in line with aspirations of the media, hence the delay to be taken to Parliament.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Ngoma called for speedy enactment of the Access to Information Bill, and the repeal and harmonization of the Independent Broadcasting (IBA) and ZNBC Acts.
He pointed out that IBA’s mandate and roles should be clearly spelt out, particularly on closures and suspension of operating licenses for electronic media houses.
“Once this is done, it will also help ZNBC become a true public broadcaster as is the case with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The MLC totally rejects the idea that IBA, apart from regulating electronic media, should also start regulating print media. If this is adopted in the repealed IBA Act, then it shall not be in the best interest of the media especially that ZAMEC will soon be in operation with a legal mandate to regulate all journalists and media outlets,” he added.
In his inaugural speech at Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on August 24, 2021, President Hichilema emphasized that during his reign, the media will enjoy the independence and freedom that it deserves and challenged the media fraternity to ensure that the self-regulation process is concluded.

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