MISA Zambia has launched the State of the Media report for the fourth quarter of 2020.
Speaking during the launch of the report, MISA Zambia Chairperson Hellen Mwale in a speech read on her behalf by MISA Zambia Board Treasurer Jetty Lungu says there is need for the Zambia Police Service to be more vigilant in shielding the media against violence, intimidation, and harassment as the country heads to the polls this August.
Mwale says it is the duty of the police to ensure that every citizen in Zambia, including journalists, feel safe.
“Protecting the media is a duty that we ought to fulfil if our country is to have citizens who are able to hold the government accountable. This is because the media is at the core of democracy”, she says.
A summary of the report findings are;
- The socio-political environment was relatively calm with fewer violations (less intense). The threat of a resurgence of the Coronavirus pandemic remains imminent and is likely to affect the operations of the media again going forward based on a spike in the number of cases recorded towards the close of the quarter. Some cases of violence recorded in the quarter were that of socialist Party Spokesperson, Rehoboth Kafwabulula was reportedly humiliated by a Sun FM journalist during a live programme dubbed “The Public Forum”. This was a classic case of unfair portrayal and humiliation of women in the media. On a positive note, collaborative efforts between the IBA and other stakeholders were witnessed through workshops, leading to the following resolutions;
- The need for continued collaboration by stakeholders to ensure that cases of harassment and violence against journalists are not withdrawn so that perpetrators are brought to book.
- Media owners and institutions should always engage the Zambia police Service whenever they conduct high-risk programmes or host politically exposed persons.
- IBA and ECZ should work together in ensuring fair coverage of all political parties during elections
- Political parties and related stakeholders should engage with the media for them to have adequate knowledge about their programmes
- On the legal front; the most notable development was the arrest on 31st October of two Ministry of Finance officials, Chileshe Kandeta and Lazarous Mwelwa over allegations of a leaked budget speech. The arrests were under the State Security Act Cap 111 of the Laws of Zambia. Additionally, the results of the Regional Transparency Assessment Study in the quarter showed that information dissemination by public organizations in Zambia, based on requests from ordinary members of the public, is a struggle.
- The economic environment remained bleak as the fourth quarter witnessed a slower rate of decline as well as a softer deterioration in the private sector business environment.
- The technological environment in the fourth quarter was more positive than that recorded in the previous quarter, particularly in view of the fewer number of violations and arrests with regard to freedom of expression online. A notable development was the awarding of Airtel Networks a limited radio spectrum in a frequency that is expected to enhance user experience and pave way for the introduction of 5G services in Zambia. This could further provide a platform for digitalization media products by ZICTA.
The MISA Zambia State of the Media quarterly report assesses the Zambian media environment in respect of legal, socio-political, technology environment. Read the full report Here.