Journalists overwhelmingly voted in favour of a media self-regulatory framework backed by law in a long, tense and protracted vote to replace the current non-statutory mechanism, which is voluntary.

Delegates, who numbered around 250 media practitioners from around Zambia, voted by a show of hands at the Golden Peacock Hotel in Lusaka, Friday, to favour a government proposal where the media will be allowed to self-regulate, but within the framework of an appropriate piece of legislation to be enacted by Parliament in due course.

This happened during the “selection and adoption of media regulation for Zambia” section where journalists representing various media institutions countrywide voted overwhelmingly to go the statutory route after hearing arguments both in favour and against the proposal.

Asked for a show of hands on which self-regulatory mechanism was most appropriate, journalists voted in favour of self-regulation backed by law in a tense, agonising and protracted 16-minute voting decision.

UNZA lecturer Elizabeth Chanda had to reiterate and explain what the key differences between statutory-backed media-self regulation and non-statutory or voluntary media-self regulation after several journalists across all media platforms expressed concerns on what they were voting for and their implications.

“Sorry, I think why you hear the murmurs is the mixing of the words; so, you have statutory on one hand where you are going to go to Parliament. Then you have non-statutory, which is also backed by law, but you are going to the Registrar (of Societies),” Chanda said.

Following her explanation, the choice was put across to an apprehensive and fatigued media fraternity who ended up voting in favour of statutory media-self regulation amidst an eruption of applause and crescendo of cheers.

Following the voting, a formal communique is expected to formally be presented to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services on the actualisation of the adopted model of statutory media self-regulation.

On Thursday upon the commencement of the two-day Media Regulation Indaba, set-up to formulate resolutions that will lead to how the news media will be regulated in Zambia, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo urged media practitioners to adopt self-regulation, but backed by law.

He campaigned on how effectively the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) had been operating under the auspices of the relevant statute governing how lawyers within the legal fraternity were regulated.

“I must emphasize that the Government of the Republic of Zambia, under President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, does not wish to regulate you; it wants you to regulate yourselves; we will assist you to put the law into place to support you. We want you to end up with a self-created, regulatory framework, just like the one the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has,” Kasolo told 250 delegates drawn from around the country gathered at the Golden Peacock Hotel.