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Cabinet approves bill for journalists’ self-regulatory body

CABINET has approved, in principle, the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to provide for the establishment of a self-regulatory professional body for journalists.

In a statement issued by chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya on the decisions made by Cabinet at the 17th cabinet meeting (continuation) held at State House, stakeholders had generally complained that a phenomenon where every person feels that they could practice journalism and do so willingly without observing the minimum standards cannot go unchallenged.

Siliya said there was a great desire among the stakeholders to save the credibility of the media.

She said the establishment of the Zambia Council for Journalists would provide a legal framework for the journalism profession to thrive, making it more effective and efficient.

Siliya said journalists would have confidence in their work considering that they were protected.

She said the Zambia Council for Journalists would further protect the profession and ensure professional reporting, especially with the advent of social media.

She said the legislation would provide for soberness and sanity by journalists.

Siliya said Cabinet approved the Media Development Policy in order to deal with the challenges that are constraining the development of the media industry in Zambia.

“As a result of liberalisation, the media industry has grown significantly and continues to do so. With this growth comes attendant challenges that must be tackled through a comprehensive policy framework: challenges such as inadequate regulation, inadequate skills among media practitioners as well as inadequate media development-related infrastructure. It has become necessary to ensure a well-coordinated approach in the sector. Further, with the advent of the electronic media, the need for appropriate regulation and capacity building is cardinal for the growth of the sector,” she said.

She said Cabinet also approved the National Information Communication Policy and its Implementation Plan which aims at, among other things, to address the challenges that the government was currently facing as regards intra-government communication and communication with the public in order to enhance information flow from government to the members of the general public and vice versa.

Siliya said the policy also addresses the irresponsible use of social media.

She said Cabinet also approved, in principle, the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to establish the Professional Filmmakers Guild of Zambia that would organise and govern the activities of actors and film makers and introduce mechanisms that would monitor quality of films.

“The film industry not only provides a means for cultural preservation, but also has the potential to significantly contribute to national development. It is for this reason that Cabinet approved the National Film Policy on 19th May 2017. The proposed piece of legislation is, therefore, expected to provide a platform which will organise and govern the activities of actors and film makers as well as monitoring the quality of films,” she said.

Siliya said to wind up debate for the day, Cabinet approved in principle, the introduction of a bill in Parliament to amend the Teaching Profession Act Number 5 of 2013 in order to redefine the mandates, roles and functions of the Council and the Standards, Evaluation and Assessment Section of the Ministry of General Education and further, harmonise them so as to enhance cost effectiveness, efficiency, and quality in the education service delivery.

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