GOVERNMENT has strongly reprimanded UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema and urged him to tone down on the use of “disgusting and insulting words,” which are allegedly causing extreme embarrassment among “decent adults.”

Meanwhile, government has launched the first-ever Media Development Policy saying it is aimed at promoting professional standards by encouraging media self-regulation.

In a statement, Monday, Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya stated that government was dismayed and saddened by the use of unpalatable language by various political leaders, particularly Hichilema, following his use of the phrase “Pa Munyoko” at a mammoth rally in Pemba District of Southern Province over the weekend.

At the said rally, Hichilema used the term “Pa Munyoko”, which according to the UPND was used as a figure of speech to encourage citizens to share their resources with those less fortunate to mitigate the high poverty levels prevailing under the PF government.

“Government is dismayed at the continued use of unpalatable language by political leaders in public. Government is particularly disappointed and saddened by the repeated use of disgusting and insulting words, especially by the UPND leader, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, despite being widely condemned by members of the public. Government wishes to urge Mr Hichilema to tone down and use acceptable language, even in the midst of excitement or bitterness,” Siliya stated.

“Mr Hichilema should be mindful of the diverse age groups that hear what he says and should exercise restraint in his expression of excitement and bitterness. Government further wishes to advise the Zambian people to desist from sharing videos and audios depicting unpalatable language. Such are not only destructive to the minds of young people, but they also cause extreme embarrassment for decent adults, especially parents.”

Meanwhile, government has launched the maiden Media Development Policy anchored on media freedom, pluralism, independence and safety of journalists.

Speaking during the launch, Information Minister Dora Siliya announced that government had resolved to deepen and widen public access to information by promoting growth of a vibrant, plural and diverse media landscape.

“Cabinet recently approved the Media Development Policy and the Government Communication Policy culminating in the launch of the two documents here today. I am, therefore, proud to present the first-ever Media Development Policy in the history of the country that that sets out government’s vision and mission to promote freedom of expression by guaranteeing press freedom. The Policy is anchored on four main pillars, namely: media freedom; media pluralism; media independence and safety of journalists. In this regard, the policy seeks to achieve the internationally agreed media development indicators, namely: freedom of expression; pluralism and diversity of the media; professional and infrastructural capacity-building and support institutions that underpin freedom of expression and media as a platform for democratic discourse,” she said.

“In resonance with the aforesaid, it is government’s resolve to deepen and widen public access to information by promoting growth of a vibrant, plural and diverse media landscape in the country. Through this policy, government further intends to promote professional standards in the media industry by encouraging media self-regulation as the main vehicle to the realisation of a free, independent and professional media. Through this policy, government has also placed a high premium on the physical, psychological and safety of journalists, in accordance with international standards laid-down in the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists. With the Media Development Policy in place, the stage is set for the media to grow and contribute, not only to a well-informed citizenry, but also to job and wealth creation.”

She also said the policy would provide a level-playing field for the private sector to invest in the media industry.

“It is, therefore, government’s expectation that this policy provides a level-playing field for private sector investment and involvement in the media industry. Time has come where the media should not only be seen as an issue of the pen and notebook, but critically as a true business and economic engine of the country. Government wants to see this giant of an industry wake up and play its full and rightful role in national development. As I have said before, I say it again, that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services is not for the public media, neither is it for ZNBC alone,” she said.

“The Ministry is for the entire media industry, both private and public. This policy, therefore, is for all the players in the media industry and its success will hinge on the support and cooperation of all stakeholders. The media is a strategic sector and cannot prosper without clear guidelines and guidance in form of a policy. Government is a servant of the people as it draws its mandate to govern from them. As such, government has a duty to constantly inform the people how it is using that mandate to improve their welfare. In the same vein, people also should provide feedback to the government on their expectations from the government.”

She said the Government Communication Policy, which was launched in tandem with the Media Policy, would place a high premium on proactive, coordinated and consistent dissemination of information from government institutions to the public

“Through my Ministry, government has, therefore, developed the communication policy premised on its commitment to democratic governance that places a high premium on proactive, coordinated and consistent dissemination of information to the public. In this regard, the Government Communication Policy is anchored on the following principles, namely: the right to information; transparency; accountability; integrity and inclusivity. To achieve this, the policy provides, among other things, a framework for access to information legislation and defines the roles of different participants in government-related communication to ensure effective and coherent communication,” said Siliya.

“To actualise the policy, my Ministry has also formulated a communication strategy that clearly spells out how various arms of government are to communicate. Key among them are: public relations operatives and other communicators in various government institutions. At the core of this policy is the desire and determination by government to attain the goal of ‘one government, one voice’ in its communication with the people. The policy is also premised on the fact that government is only a custodian of information; its true owners are the people. This policy is an exact panacea for that.”

Meanwhile, according to UPND deputy press secretary Brian Mwiinga, Hichilema’s usage of the term “Pa Munyoko” was employed figuratively to urge Zambians to share their resources with others amid the high levels of poverty that had been exacerbated the PF’s mismanagement of public funds.

“Following numerous and uncoordinated efforts to explain the language or indeed the words “Pa Munyoko” by some politically motivated groups, which unfortunately may have little knowledge or indeed totally ignorant about the two words, we wish to state facts as this: 1. Pa Munyoko is a widely-used and acceptable word by some Zambians and it simply means give (pa) your friend/brother or a relation (munyoko) and figuratively, it also means don’t be selfish/greedy, but learn to share. 2. And in apparent reference to the UPND president Mr Hakainde Hichilema or indeed any other Zambian conversant with the words, it was being used to mean that there is so much gluttony in the alleged corrupt PF regime such that citizens are going without proper meals and because of that they need to share or indeed give others (Pa Munyoko),” read a statement issued by Mwiinga, Monday.

“It is not Mr Hichilema’s preoccupation to be explaining lingual issues, but he understands that this is a full preoccupation for the minority who survive on tribal rantings. Mr Hichilema is working round the clock to ensure that all Zambians are united and given job and business opportunities as opposed to calling them ‘Utupuba’ like the PF leader Edgar Lungu did recently. Having said that, it is Mr Hichilema’s sincere hope that citizens will continue going to voter’s cards registration centres and get voter’s cards as that is their voice. He assures the youth, women and the old of a better tomorrow once elected President of the country during the next elections. And share the little you have with MUNYOKO.”