Access to Information to contribute to transparency and accountability – MISA Zambia

Access to Information to contribute to transparency and accountability – MISA Zambia

SPEECH BY MISA ZAMBIA CHAIRPERSON HELEN MWALE ON THE LAUNCH OF THE STATE OF THE MEDIA IN ZAMBIA (2ND QUARTER 2018 AT PROTEA HOTEL (ARCADES)

  LUSAKA

4TH OCTOBER, 2018

 

THE RESIDENT DIRECTOR FES – MR. HELMUT ELISCHER

MISA ZAMBIA GOVERNORS PRESENT

NATIONAL DIRECTOR MISA ZAMBIA – MR. AUSTIN KAYANDA

GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES PRESENT

REPRESENTATIVES OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS PRESENT

COLLEAGUES IN THE MEDIA

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

 

GOOD MORNING!

IT IS WITH GREAT PLEASURE THAT I WELCOME ALL OF US TO THE STATE OF THE MEDIA IN ZAMBIA REPORT LAUNCH OF THE 2ND QUARTER OF 2018. ALLOW ME TO EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION TO ALL HERE PRESENT FOR HAVING MADE A SPECIAL EFFORT TO ATTEND.

MISA ZAMBIA IS VERY HUMBLED BY YOUR SUPPORT TOWARDS MEDIA FREEDOM IN ZAMBIA.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

MEDIA FREEDOM IS THE CORNERSTONE OF EVERY DEMOCRACY AS IT ENABLES CITIZENS TO ENJOY THEIR RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION. THESE TWO RIGHTS HELP US TO SEEK THE TRUTH AND MAKE INFORMED DECISIONS.

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE IMPORTANCE OF PRESS FREEDOM, MISA ZAMBIA AND FES FOUND IT RELEVANT TO BE ASSESSING THE MEDIA WORKING ENVIRONMENT IN ZAMBIA EVERY QUARTER AND PRODUCE A REPORT THERE AFTER CALLED THE STATE OF THE MEDIA IN ZAMBIA.

IT IS TRUE THAT THE MEDIA PLAYS AN IMPERATIVE ROLE IN SHAPING PUBLIC OPINION AND INFORMING THE PUBLIC ON VARIOUS ISSUES. IT IS THE MEDIA AFTER ALL WHICH ASSISTS THE CITIZENS IN MAKING INFORMED DECISIONS BY PROVIDING THE PUBLIC WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THE ACTIONS AND OPINIONS OF THEIR DUTY HOLDERS.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

JOURNALISM IS ONE OF THE PROFESSIONS THAT IS MOST EXPOSED TO THREATS. THIS CONSTITUTES NOT ONLY A THREAT TO THE PROFESSION, BUT ALSO TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, AND DEMOCRACY. WE MUST NEVER FORGET THAT DEMOCRACY THRIVES WHEN A PLURALITY OF VOICES ARE HEARD. UNFORTUNATELY, MANY VOICES ARE UNDER ATTACK.

ALLOW ME TO QUOTE CHRISTOPHER DODD WHO SAID, “WHEN THE PUBLIC’S RIGHT TO KNOW IS THREATENED, AND WHEN THE RIGHTS OF FREE SPEECH AND FREE PRESS ARE AT RISK, ALL OF THE OTHER LIBERTIES WE HOLD DEAR ARE ENDANGERED.”

FREEDOMS OF EXPRESSION AND OPINION, TRANSPARENCY AND ACCESS TO INFORMATION ARE PREREQUISITES FOR DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES. IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT WE APPEAL TO THE GOVERNMENT TO SPEEDY UP THE PROCESS OF ENACTING THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION BILL WHICH HAS BEEN PENDING SINCE 2002.

IT IS OUR CONSIDERED VIEW AS MISA ZAMBIA THAT THE ENACTMENT OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION LAW WILL CONTRIBUTE TO TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY AS CITIZENS WILL BE EMPOWERED TO PARTICIPATE IN MATTERS OF GOVERNANCE THROUGH ACCESS TO ACCURATE INFORMATION. THE GOVERNMENT MUST THEREFORE MAKE GOOD FAITH EFFORTS AND PRESENT THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION BILL TO PARLIAMENT AS A MATTER OF URGENCY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE.

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS

WE HAVE SEEN HOW THE MEDIA HAS CONSTANTLY RECEIVED THREATS BY POLITICAL PARTY PLAYERS INCLUDING STATE AGENTS WITHOUT REASONABLE CAUSE WHEN THEY ARE MERELY CARRYING OUT THEIR DUTIES.

THIS BECOMES MORE SEVERE DURING PERIODS OF HEIGHTENED POLITICAL TENSION SUCH AS ELECTIONS, WHEREBY JOURNALISTS HAVE BEEN SPECIFICALLY TARGETED. THE INCIDENTS HAVE ALSO BEEN DOCUMENTED IN THE ORGANISATION’S VARIOUS REPORTS WITH RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION.

CITIZENS WITH DIVERGENT VIEWS HAVE NOT BEEN SPARED FROM THIS INTIMIDATION AS WELL.

THIS LACK OF REGARD FOR THE RULE OF LAW BY THOSE WHO ARE SUPPOSED TO ENFORCE THE LAW HAS AFFECTED THE MEDIA PERFORMANCE AS THIS BREEDS FEAR AMONG JOURNALISTS FOR THEIR SAFETY IN THEIR LINE OF DUTIES.

WE AS MISA ZAMBIA WILL NOT RELENT IN PROMOTING A FREE AND RESPONSIBLE MEDIA WHO ARE SUPPORTING THE LARGER GOAL OF GOVERNANCE.

WE THEREFOR URGE THE MEDIA NOT TO RELENT BUT DO THE RIGHT THING ALWAYS EVEN AS WE CONTINUE WITH THE STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND MEDIA FREEDOM.

AS WE MAY BE AWARE, WITH FREEDOM COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITIES, IT IS THEREFORE IMPORTANT THAT WE IN MEDIA FOCUS ON ISSUES OF STANDARDS AND INTEGRITY TO INCREASE OUR CREDIBLITY.

LET US HONOUR OUR COLLEAGUES WHO ARE BEING REPRESSED, PUNISHED, AND EVEN KILLED, FOR PRACTICING THEIR PROFESSION BY MAINTAINING THE HIGHEST STANDARDS POSSIBLE, SHOW LEADERSHIP AND MORAL COURAGE, AND LET’S GIVE OUR BEST EFFORTS AT ALL TIMES.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

IT IS OUR VIEW THAT VARIOUS STAKEHOLDERS, INCLUDING DUTY BEARERS AND RIGHTS HOLDERS, WILL TAKE KEEN INTEREST IN READING THIS REPORT AND WORK TOWARDS IMPROVING AND FOSTERING MEDIA FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCY IN ZAMBIA.

THIS LAUNCH THEREFORE PROVIDES ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL OF US TO BE REMINDED THAT A LOT STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE TO ENSURE FULL RESPECT OF THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

IN CLOSING, LET ME NOW, ON BEHALF OF MISA ZAMBIA, SEIZE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CONGRATULATE AND THANK OUR ALL-WEATHER PARTNER IN THESE PUBLICATIONS, FRIEDRICH-EBERT-STIFTUNG FES, FOR FACILITATING AND SUPPORTING US. YOU HAVE OUR SINCERE APPRECIATION!

TO EVERYONE HERE TODAY, THANK YOU FOR GRACING THIS OCCASION.

I THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION.

 

 

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