—–Information Deputy Minister, Forrie Tembo, has expressed concern over some media houses that have continued to allow politicians to use media platforms to insult and fumigate violence.
Mr Tembo said government has no intention of interfering with the media but said journalists should be professional and ensure they provide factual and objective information which can help develop the country as opposed to inciting violence.
He said this at Breeze FM radio when he met proprietor, Mike Daka, as he undertook a tour of radio stations in Chipata district.
“The media should be used to unite people and not to incite violence, regionalism and tribalism which have become hot issues. We need to promote culture and address Gender Based Violence (GBV) among other issues through the media,” he said.
Mr Tembo also stated that government intends to support local radio stations, adding that a proposal has been made and is yet to be taken to Cabinet for approval before it is tabled in Parliament.
He observed that local radio stations also have challenges that hinder them from managing their operations, saying government intends to help address the challenges.
“Government will endeavour to provide an enabling environment for the media to flourish as we realise that the media are a partner in development,” he said.
The Information Deputy Minister also said government intends to empower the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) in all the ten provinces of the
country to enable the institution carryout its mandate of information
Mr Tembo, who visited Radio Breeze FM and Feel Free Radio in Chipata district in Eastern Province, observed that ZANIS offices in the districts are ill-equipped, saying there is need to provide them with equipment.
He observed that government has not paid much attention to the institution in the districts and stated that it is now in the process of providing equipment that will help improve information dissemination especially in rural areas where people do
not have equal access to information.
Meanwhile, Breeze FM director, Mike Daka, said inconsistent power supply by Zesco has been the biggest challenge for the radio station to operate efficiently.
“It is expensive because we have to buy generators and those generators need fuel almost on a daily basis. This inconsistent supply has also led to damage to some of our equipment and in some cases we are off air,” said Mr Daka.
Mr Daka also noted that government departments have been adamant to pay for radio programs, saying he has been forced to seek sponsorship for developmental agendas from international partners.
“We produce a number of programs, most of which benefit government, because these programs are meant to discuss developmental agendas by government. I think it would be better for government departments to sponsor some of these programs because it is expensive to produce a program,’ he said.
And later, when he visited Feel Free radio station, Information Deputy Minister, Forrie Tembo, observed that violence against journalists is usually a result of biased reporting by some media practitioners who do not want to abide by ethical standards.
Mr Tembo also charged that some journalists who work for reputable media houses have been posting stories for social media which write defamatory especially on government.
“They do this even when they know that it is not professional and such stories have a potential to bring anarchy among people in the country,” he said.
But Feel Free radio station Manager, Jacklyn Mtoleka, charged that tribalism is being fumigated by political figures and stated that the politicians themselves should be discouraged from issuing tribal remarks in their campaigns.
Ms Mtoleka wondered why tribalism has suddenly taken centre stage when
Zambians from 72 ethnic tribes have been living peacefully.
She also appealed to government to guarantee protection of the media if the industry is to operate professionally.
The Station Manager stated that media freedom will help promote professionalism, adding that some media practitioners have been targets of violence by some
sectors of society.