PF is contradicting its own manifesto on media reforms

What the Ministry of Information and it’s attack dog, the Independent Broadcasting Authority is doing to the media in Zambia is horribly wrong. It is wrong, not because News Diggers! says so, or because the American Embassy and the European Union think so, but because the Patriotic Front itself says so.

What Minister Dora Siliya, her Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo and the IBA are doing is contrary to what the PF proclaims in its manifesto on media reforms in Zambia. It is so contrary that when you read the manifesto, you would wonder which template these guys are governing from. We are not referring to the old manifesto, but the one that the PF promised to implement if elected in August 2016.

We will explore in detail the senseless rantings which are coming from the ministry regarding media regulation and press freedom in our next edition, but today, we thought of bringing out some provisions of the Michael Sata PF manifesto and the Edgar Lungu PF manifesto on media reforms, so that our readers can appreciate what we will be talking about in our opinion tomorrow.

We would like our readers to read, compare and contrast what the PF promised to do before forming government and how it is failing to implement its own media policies despite being in power. We say this because from our analysis, the PF manifesto of 2011 and the PF manifesto of 2016 are totally consistent on self-regulation of the media and the need to transform the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation into a real public broadcaster.
Below is what Sata’s PF promised:

MEDIA REFROMS PF MANIFESTO 2011-2016

(chapter 27; page 49)

Zambia operates a three-tier system of broadcasting namely public service broadcasting, commercial broadcasting and community radio broadcasting. The print media is characterized by government controlled media and the private media. The coverage of news and current affairs by the government owned and controlled media houses is biased towards government and the MMD as the ruling party.

In spite of the enactment of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Act of 2002, which established the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) as a public service broadcaster, ZNBC has continued to operate as a government and MMD mouth-piece.

Further despite the enactment of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act of 2002, which provides for the establishment of an Independent Broadcasting Authority, the issuing of broadcasting licences to applicants and appointment of the ZNBC board of directors, the MMD government has refused to implement the law.

The MMD government has further refused to pass into law the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill since 2002, to allow journalists and the public access to information of public interest.

To address the above issues the (Sata) PF government shall:

1. Implement the provisions of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Act of 2002 so as to allow ZNBC operate as a public service broadcaster.

2. Review and implement the provisions of the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act of 2002.

3. Promote the autonomy of the government print media so as to enable them to compete with the private media.

4. Review and reconcile the provisions of the Official Secrets Act and the Freedom of Information Bill of 2002 in order to enact the Freedom of Information Bill of 2002 into law.

5. Support self-regulation of the media in Zambia.

6. Review operations of the public media.

MEDIA REFORMS PF MANIFESTO 2016-2021

(Chapter 27; page 75)

Upon assuming office in 2011, the Patriotic Front Government operationalised the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in 2013 which had remained inoperable since 2002 when it was established under the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act of 2002 to enhance accountability and a level playing field in the media sector. The IBA has accelerated the issuance of broadcasting licenses to establish radio and television station across Zambia. So far a total of 20 television licences and 36 radio licences have been issued since the IBA was set up in 2013. In 2015, Zambia successfully migrated from analogue to digital television.

In order to enhance the role of the media in its critical role of informing, educating and entertaining, the (Lungu) PF government shall:

1. Implement the provisions of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Amendment Act of 2002 so as to allow ZNBC operate as a public service broadcaster

2. Review and implement the provisions of the Independence Broadcasting Authority Act of 2002.

3. Promote the autonomy of the government print media so as to enable them to compete with the private media.

4. Review and reconcile the provisions of the Official Secrets Act and the Freedom of Information Bill of 2002 in order to enact the Freedom of Information Bill of 2002 into law.

5. Support self-regulation of the media in Zambia.

6. Review operations of the public media.

As can be seen above, the Michael Sata PF manifesto clearly identified the ills and wrongs in the way the MMD was abusing public media institutions, but the Edgar Lungu PF is shamelessly admitting it’s own failure to stop the abuse of public media. The Sata manifesto says ‘let journalists regulate themselves, but the Lungu PF is doing contrary to what it’s promising.

The wrongs which PF complained about under the MMD government, this PF of President Edgar Lungu seems to have embraced. When people say the PF of Michael Sata is gone, that is exactly what they mean. This new PF promises one thing but delivers the opposite.

When we listen to Mr Chanda Kasolo and Honourable Dora Siliya, we wonder whether this government is deliberately going against its own manifesto or perhaps the PS and his Minister do not know what is in the PF manifesto of 2011 and 2016.

It is on this score that we can confidently tell our leaders at the Ministry of Information that they are trying to fool people who forget easily or don’t read. Fortunately, we still have some fresh blood and we will not hold back from speaking our mind to a lying leadership.
To be continued…

         

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