Since we launched the News Diggers! website on March 2, 2017, we have been overwhelmed by the support and numerous messages of encouragement from citizens of this country including those living in the diaspora. Interestingly, the major political rivals, UPND and the PF have also welcomed our birth and they have both warned us to remain exceptionally balanced and away from practicing “Cadre Journalism”.
From the messages that we continue to receive, we can conclude that there are so many people serving in this government, doing business with the PF administration, who are thirsty for more independent journalism in Zambia. They are clearly happy that we are not wallowing in self-pity or defeat; and just like those who can’t wait for the PF’s tenure of office to expire, those who are enjoying government protection believe that Zambia would be a safer place if an investigative media organisation was allowed to thrive – especially one run by a young team of news reporters.
Indeed the new generation of Zambians today face a daunting task of rescuing the freedom of expression and private media liberties from the jaws of state sponsored injustice.
An independent press is the lifeblood of any functioning democracy and the challenge of reclaiming Zambia’s true democratic accolade cannot continue to rest upon the founding fathers of this nation.
We, the young generation at News Diggers! realise that the future of this country’s media freedoms lie in our hands. We realise that the future of a free press lies in the hands of the young generation at Prime TV, the young generation at Radio Phoenix, the young generation at QFM radio and those at Muvi TV. The survival of independent journalism is in the hands of the young people at Radio Mano, Diamond TV, Breeze FM and Sky Radio. We cannot continue to rely on Vernon Mwaanga’s voice in the fight for press freedom in Zambia; we must instead learn from his experience and take over the mantle of leadership.
When Fred M’membe, a world press freedom hero, is being smoked out of his own country for being critical in his reporting, that should not only raise a red flag, but also accelerate efforts by the younger generation to step in. Fred M’membe is not the sole beneficiary of independent journalism in Zambia, it is the general public and of course us, the budding news reporters employed at various private media houses across the country.
What the Zambian people are asking for is professional, ethical and balanced news reporting, and therefore, we young journalists must stand up and give the Zambian masses what they yearn for. Let us not passively wait for Honourable Tutwa Ngulube or Honourable Garry Nkombo to stand on the floor of the National Assembly and speak on our behalf.
It must not come to you as a surprise that our politicians no longer depend on Grey Zulu, James Mapoma or Dr Kenneth Kaunda for their political survival. Those holding political office today are instead spending millions of kwacha for youth mobilisation in all their activities, and they are willing to spend more because they appreciate the power that lies in the youth. Unfortunately, our youths in politics are not exchanging ideas, but punches, even on special occasions like Youth Day, oblivious to the reality that tomorrow; this country will be theirs to govern.
This is what we young members of the Fourth Estate must say no to. This is what should force us to come out of our hiding and face the oppressors. We must wean ourselves off and defend what our founding fathers started, using our youthful valour.
In the same vein, it should irk young lawyers in Zambia when injustice is being perpetrated right in their faces. Our lawyers should not wait for Professor Patrick Mvunga to speak for them. They should not shun participation when justice Mathew Ngulube or justice Annel Silungwe is determining the rules and the future of their profession.
It should annoy the young learned counsels even more at various law firms when their youthful leader, Linda Kasonde, is being forcefully hounded out of office the Mutembo Nchito way, and abused in the most shameful way possible. Linda Kasonde should not only be revered for being the first female president of the Law Association of Zambia, but because she is young and cares deeply for this country for sake of her children and her children’s children.
If Linda Kasonde has breached her ethical code of conduct, which we the outsiders are not aware of, it should be the LAZ Council to institute investigations against her. It should be lawyers going to protest at her office, not a bunch of sponsored weapon-wielding thugs. Linda Kasonde is mandated to uphold the Zambian Constitution for the benefit of everyone, including President Edgar Lungu’s grandchildren and their children’s children. Therefore, young Linda Kasonde is owed the duty of protection by not only young female learned counsels in this country, but all the visionaries, including law students in Universities and Colleges.
When Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo announces to Parliament that those political cadres who besieged the LAZ secretariat, broke the law, he should not be left without explaining why the police have not arrested anyone of them. Surely, our young lawyers can move in and pursue the hooligans, not for Linda Kasonde but for LAZ and for their profession.
Similarly, young doctors in our country should not only be concerned about the availability of drugs in the hospitals they serve. They should worry about the credibility of those governing their profession. The young doctors in this country should raise questions and take interest in understanding how Dr Lackson Kasonka was hounded out of the University Teaching Hospital where he diligently served.
The young generation of doctors must ask its union leadership what led to Dr Kasonka’s forced transfer and take interest to find out where he has ended up today. Our junior doctors who have chosen to stay in Zambia and save our lives must realise that the professionalism in all these health institutions is theirs to protect.
If Apex University, a private institution, is using government facilities at the Cancer Diseases Hospital for free, they should not wait for Dr Tackson Lambert to come back and question those abusing their authority – its your profession, and its professional future lies in your professionalism today.
In his book “Dreams of our Country” Cade Chikobo, a young Zambian working in the civil service, wrote: “Are you ready to be part of the greatness that Zambia is destined for?, because more than ever before our country today is in dire need of meticulous thinkers, visionaries and selfless young men and women to join the battalion of great patriots in building and defining a country of our choice.”
Chikobo further asks: “What cause is this young generation fighting for?” Our answer at News Diggers is, we are fighting for a just and sane society that respects the laws of our land, an economically viable and politically sober society in which our children and children’s children will live and prosper.
What about you young lawyers, doctors, teachers, miners, farmers and cadres of all political parties? What are you fighting for? What is your vision for Zambia?