VARIOUS governments have expressed concerns on the suspension of the Prime Television broadcasting licence, foreign affairs minister Joseph Malanji has revealed. Briefing diplomats at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday, Malanji said he had been informed of concerns expressed by various governments over the IBA decision to suspend Prime TV for a month. He however assured the various diplomats accredited to Zambia that the Independent Broadcasting Authority was an independent investigation authority, which carried its work without government interference.
“I have indicated that my ministry remains at your disposal to discuss issues of mutual interest between our countries. I have had the occasion to interact with some of your missions on various issues. I have also been informed of concerns expressed by some of your governments on suspension of Prime Television. I wish to inform Your Excellences that the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) is an independent investigation authority. Therefore, the investigation on the broadcasting network were carried out without any government interference,” Malanji said.
“According to the regulatory authority, IBA, the suspension of Prime TV for a period of 30 days is for the broadcasting network to comply with the media ethics which are currently under investigation. The Patriotic Front government continues to promote and encourage freedom of expression and freedom of the press. I wish to therefore assure Your Excellences that government remains steadfast to ensuring all citizens enjoy the freedom. I plan to hold regular forums where we can discuss such topical issues so as to improve the engagement between government and diplomatic corps. Modalities of this engagement will be communicated through diplomatic channels.”
And Malanji said Zambia was expected to host a high level event on ending child marriage in 2020 in an effort to highlight the progress and achievements made in the campaign.
Zambia is championing the African Union campaign for ending child marriages.
“On ending child, Your Excellences may wish to note that His Excellency the President [Edgar Lungu] presented a report on ending child marriage as a champion of the African Union campaign for ending child marriages,” he said. “The report highlighted the progress made in the fight against child marriages on the continent and was adopted by the assembly in the closed session.”
Malanji reiterated Zambia’s commitment to host the Secretariat of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC).
He said the AU organ would ensure coordinated consultations between government and civil society on programmes related to the implementation of the AU agenda 2063 as well as the sustainable development goals.
“As you may be aware, Zambia was unanimously elected to host the secretariat of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), which is an advisory organ of the African Union established to ensure the active participation of African civil society in the integration and development agenda of the continent in January 2016,” Malanji said. “ECOSOCC secretariat will cover a three-year period transition from an interim level to fully fledged secretariat. Therefore, ECOSOCC secretariat is currently in the process of relocating to Zambia. However, the Zambian government is waiting for the finalisation of the recruitment process by the African Union Commission, which will see the establishment of interim secretariat by April 2019.”