In a speech read on his behalf by MISA Zambia national governing council committee member Basil Hamusonde at the civil society organization and policy makers safety of Journalists workshop in Lusaka on Friday, MISA Zambia national director Austin Kayanda said the need for the safety of journalists cannot be over emphasized.
Mr. Kayanda said safety of the media comes with combined efforts from both the government, civil society and members of the public while reminding journalists on their need to be ethical and professional in their conduct.
“It is for this reason that we are all gathered here. It is to come up with a way forward and share strategies that can work for our media to promote their safety even as they cover the forthcoming elections,” he said.
Mr Kayanda said the safety and freedom of the media is paramount in any democratic dispensation especially in the active participation of citizens in governance.
He said in times of elections the media is very vulnerable to attacks, harassments and intimidation from various political stakeholders including political party cadres, political party sympathizers, and at times even members of the general public.
“We are happy with the efforts that are been made by the government through law enforcement agencies such as the police are making in a bid to enhance the safety of the media. However, we feel more could be done to further promote and protect the media in Zambia,” he said.
Mr. Kayanda said during elections, the media play an especially important role in educating the public and raising awareness on the electoral process.
“However, this important task is compromised when their safety is not considered. An intimidated media is unable to report matters of public interest; they are unable to fulfil their obligation to the members of the public to whom their allegiance lies,” he said.
The workshop was held with support from UNESCO