MAZABUKA Central UPND Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo says News Diggers Media Limited has demonstrated the importance of investigative journalism in the country and has set benchmarks for the industry.

Debating on the report of the Committee on media, information and communication technologies, Nkombo said the government should provide a platform for investigative journalism to flourish so that the country can benefit.

“The next example that I will give Mr Speaker is the issue of the devastation that has happened in the area, in Lusaka East in forest 27. The News Diggers dedicated themselves to this story until the government started jittering around, getting a bit nervous, calling News Diggers names, because they went in and demonstrated that there was a certain amount of impunity involving government officials and to be specific, some from the particular political party PF. They went to [Ministry of] Lands and collected records of people who had benefited from that particular treasured forest 27. That is a typical example of journalism that is investigative, that is the standard. So, the report is seeking for this to be given a platform to exist peacefully,” he said.

“My own view is that the government has a duty to perform in terms of what they will do to action what the committee is saying. Remember Mr Speaker, the committee system was the heart and soul of any Parliament and there is something this report is seeking to achieve. And one thing that came out very clearly was that the committee has lamented about the delay in bringing forward the Access To Information Bill which has been gathering dust for a very long time under this government. The government must come clear when they intend to bring this bill considering that they only have a few weeks to remain before they go to seek another mandate from the Zambia people. There is an explanation that the Minister must give why the Access To Information Bill has taken this long to bring out.”

Nkombo pointed out that the Kangaluwi Copper mine failed to open owing to investigative journalism the outlined the disadvantages of opening a mine in the area.

“Remember sir, they say that when the state is wrong, it becomes very dangerous to be right. The report is also seeking to address the existing laws that may circumvent or prohibit the leverage on investigative journalism. The report talks about fear, that is the matter that requires to be cured. Which is it that the journalists are scared? What is it that they are scared of? Has it been that way ever since Adam and Eve, I think the answer is no. We need to address this report and stop glossing over the very salient points that come out? The government is required to provide a platform for investigative journalism to flourish because an uninformed nation is also a very dangerous nation,” he said.

“I will give you Mr Speaker one story which is a clear example of investigative journalism. Once, there was the issue of redeveloping the Kangaluwi Copper mine, in the lower Zambezi. We all are aware that the public rose, they did not want that investment to re-start. And so, some journalists took it upon themselves to go in and find out the nitty gritty of re-establishing this particular mine. That is an example of investigative journalism as against what I am hearing now. This report is not about social media. It is not about the Zambian Watchdog. It’s not about Smart Eagles, it’s about investigative journalism where somebody dedicates themselves to a developing story.”