INFORMATION Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga says his ministry was not in any way proposing closure or violence against News Diggers when it warned that the newspaper should have itself to blame for calling youths as “stupid.”
Responding to questions from journalists at a press briefing in Lusaka, Wednesday, Malupenga said the ministry would invite News Diggers managing director Joseph Mwenda to make him understand the context in which the statement was made.
“All what the minister is saying is that when the need arises, the ministry will provide that counsel or that advice. And like she rightly said [that] two wrongs don’t make a right because [News] Diggers is saying it was Lusambo who used that word and the Minister is saying…and that is the example she was giving of the uncle who was saying ‘don’t insult’ and then you say talk to the other uncle before you can come to talk to me. And in giving that advice, it is not in any way suggesting that government is proposing violence against the newspaper or closure. It is just a reminder that as we communicate, we must use the language that is palatable and repeating a wrong word or an insult may not necessarily be a good enough defence,” Malupenga said.
He said the difference between the newspaper and the ministry was more of a “family talk”.
“And that is not to say the uncle who used that [word] is right. There will be other procedures that will ensure that that uncle who could have used unpalatable language is also reminded [to say] ‘when you are communicating, you communicate in this way.’ We can summarise that as family talk. So, as a parent, when she (Dora Siliya) sees that two things are not going well in our family, we need to speak to each other. So that is just family talk. When there is a misunderstanding, we can exchange,” he said.
“So, maybe I will invite the MD for News Diggers Mr Joseph Mwenda so that we can compare notes and explain to him that this is the context in which the minister guided. And we seize the opportunity to reassure colleagues that the government as you heard the President last week saying ‘the government is for freedom of expression’ but let us always remember that that is not practiced in isolation. We have the professional guidelines that will guide us on how far we can go.”
And Malupenga said no media should feel threatened because his ministry is there to support the industry.
“So, no one should feel threatened. Just like you (media) if you have issues to share with the ministry, you can come and engage the minister on your concern. Everyone should feel very free for as long as they are within the parameters of the law and the professional guidelines,” said Malupenga.