President Edgar Lungu says journalists must regulate themselves or the State will be forced to regulate them.

Speaking before departure for Durban, South Africa today, President Lungu said while he did not subscribe to the idea that the state should regulate media practitioners, it will only be logical to do so if journalists failed to regulate themselves.

“Congratulations [for commemorating World Press Freedom Day], be part of the process of growth. The media is part of us. For us, we hope that you will move with us. Please don’t take sides. Be neutral, tell us when we are wrong and above all, be friendly to us. For those who are with us and those who oppose us, just articulate their views and at the end of the day we will benefit but if the media becomes a channel even for issues which are going to divide us, then it won’t help,” President Lungu said.

“So unite us, criticize us and upload us when need be but I really think without you we can’t go anywhere. So Zambia needs a free press. But also, let’s talk about regulation, regulate yourselves, if you want us to regulate you, we will but I don’t subscribe to the idea that the state should regulate the media but if you refuse to regulate yourselves we will. But I don’t think under my watch I will regulate anybody.”

President Lungu also emphasized the need for him to constantly engage other Heads of State in finding solutions to some of the challenges the country was facing.

“There are a lot of things pertaining to the economy. The more we talk to each other as Africans, the more we create space for ourselves. It is a regional issue, in fact, SADC is one, if you come to Zambia and you come to South Africa we’re one…for us, Zambia has been positioning itself and if the President is staying at home all the time and not speaking to our neighbors, then Zambia will sink. But I am glad that we are on course,” said President Lungu.