THE Media Liaison Committee says it does not expect any surprises from the government over the draft Zambia Media Council bill.
In his speech after presenting the draft ZAMEC bill to information minister Dora Siliya in Lusaka yesterday, MLC chairperson Enock Ngoma said journalists expected the government to respect their submissions on statutory self-regulation of the media.
Ngoma said there was need to have professional journalists.
“We want to have a cadre of journalists in Zambia who are going to work professionally. We need a cadre of journalists who are going to work under a code of ethics that is going to be hindered to. Enhance this document when it becomes law. We are not trying to police any journalist; we are not policemen or police officers. We are only there to ensure that the media is regulated,” he said.
Ngoma said when ZAMEC starts its operations, it could grant the media freedom which currently does not exist.
“It is not only going to regulate but it will also ensure that it promotes the freedom of the media to the level where we want it to be,” he said.
Ngoma assured Siliya that media practitioners were committed to the self-regulation document.
He further said he was hoping that the draft ZAMEC Bill would not to be changed by the government to suit themselves but to see the aspirations of the journalists who made efforts in coming up with the document prevail.
“This document we are presenting to the government today, we are very hopeful that there shall be no surprises when it comes back to us, to say ‘this is a final document which has now come up from Ministry of Justice after they worked on it’. We are hoping that this document will be improved for the better if at all there is any improvement needed by the government,” said Ngoma.
Meanwhile, Siliya said the government was separating masquerading journalists from real ones.
She said there was a need for the journalism profession to be distinguished from others.
Siliya said journalists must not be left as casual workers who have nothing to do but be recognised as the best professionals in society.
“If you don’t do a good job, the whole society suffers,” she said.
Siliya said the world over journalism was under threat because of the power individuals have realised due to technology. “In this ministry we have been calling for a distinction between the quacks, the masqueraders, the citizen journalists, and their power to be able to just write stories anonymously because they know that they are not verified stories,” she said.
Siliya said receiving the draft document from ZAMEC was a landmark point for Zambia and the journalism profession.
“This today is truly a momentous occasion because the sector is fighting for its own credibility. Credibility as far as the citizens are concerned. Credibility as far as government is concerned because we have been concerned about the polarisation. We are concerned about all the journalists in each media, on how they are protected from media owners and government,” said Siliya.