MEDIA Liaison Committee (MLC) chairperson Enock Ngoma says any journalist who is ethical and professional has no reason to be afraid of the coming statutory self-regulation of the media in Zambia.
In a presentation on media statutory self-regulation at a training on safety and security of journalists organised by Bloggers of Zambia to strengthen police-media relations for the safety of journalists in Zambia, Ngoma said the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) would ensure the country had a cadre of journalists that operate professionally and observe the tenets and ethics of the profession.
Ngoma said media organisations agreed to self regulation as there was a lot of impersonation in the profession.
He lamented that some media practitioners had thrown ethics and professionalism through the window.
“There is no professional body that an aggrieved person can complain to except going through the lengthy legal processes in the courts of law. The members of the public are not protected. The journalists are equally not protected, not only by society and state organs but by their fellow journalists,” he said.
Ngoma stressed that during the May 9-10 Insaka, which attracted over 250 journalists, civil society and other stakeholders, delegates unanimously voted for statutory self-regulation of the media.
“This to us as MLC, we feel that the agreed mode of media regulation to be backed by law was by consensus. This means that every individual journalist and all media houses shall be compelled to subscribe to ZAMEC and shall agree to play by the rules and regulations,” he said.
Ngoma explained that the ZAMEC regulatory system shall be on practice and conduct of journalists and shall place more emphasis on correctional as opposed to punitive action each time a journalist or media house acts in a manner deemed to be unprofessional or unethical.
He said the challenge for the media was to ensure that once the law was in place, it shall not be doctored, tampered with or even amended in any way by the State.
“Local and international media experts are still giving counsel and advice on the process so that at the end of the day we can have something that is close to perfection. Note also that some institutions such as the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) have their own internal regulatory system hence they are not regulated by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA),” Ngoma explained.
“Then there is also the IBA itself which currently is a State regulatory institution and regulates all the broadcast media in Zambia.”
Ngoma explained further that with the on-going consultations with the government, it was generally agreed that before ZAMEC was operational, the ZNBC and IBA Acts should be revisited so that regulation of all the media in the country should be the mandate of ZAMEC.
“It is envisaged that with the coming of ZAMEC, a professional body which shall be able to accredit journalists, the country shall have a cadre of journalists who shall operate professionally and observing the tenets and ethics of the profession. The lost trust from the members of the public who are the major constituent should be restored and that each and every journalist and media house shall operate responsibly,” said Ngoma.
“Any journalist, who is ethical and professional when carrying out his or her duties, has no reason to be scared of the coming self-regulation of the media in Zambia. This is happening in many other countries across the globe.”
And Bloggers of Zambia founder and chief executive officer Richard Mulonga said the training was meant to create and enhance awareness and security of journalists during the course of their work, especially as they interacted with the police.