Republic of Zambia
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services
STATEMENT BY HON. KENNEDY SAKENI, MP, MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING SERVICES AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON ON ACCUSATIONS BY MR MIKE MULONGOTI
It is hypocritical of Mr Mike Mulongoti, leader of the newly formed Peoples Party (PP), to challenge the Government, our Permanent Secretary Mr Amos Malupenga, in particular, to state what has been done to improve media freedom in Zambia since coming into office in 2011.
Firstly, Mr Mulongoti is reminded that it is unfair and unprocedural for him to attack a civil servant in his personal capacity in the media whom he knows cannot respond to him as a politician, as reported in the media.
As such, Mr Mulongoti should have directed his comments to my office and not drag civil servants into politics.
In any case, we wonder where Mr Mulongoti got the courage to make such a challenge when, he did nothing to improve the very media environment he is talking about when he served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services in the MMD Government.
Zambians have not forgotten that as Minister of Information, Mr Mulongoti presided over a media that had sunk to its lowest level, professionally, due to heavy political patronage at the hands of the then ruling MMD.
A media in which the public had completely lost confidence because of its highly partisan, unethical and unprofessional conduct.
Mr Mulongoti was one of the architects of this ugly past which the Patriotic Front Government has worked hard to dismantle.
Under the PF Government, the media, both public and private, is now free to set its own reportorial and editorial agenda without fear or favour.
The loyalty of the media is now to the public and not the Party in power as was the case under MMD Government in which Mr Mulongoti served.
And evidence is there for all to see:
It has taken this Government less than 12 months to actualize the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) which the MMD Government shelved for many years.
The IBA is now operational under the refurbished offices at the Mass Media Complex in Lusaka. The process to recruit a Chief Executive officer and other staff at the organization, is underway.
With Government’s blessings, the media launched their self regulatory body last year which the MMD, with Mr Mulongoti as Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, had vehemently opposed when they were in office.
Needless to belabour the progress which has been made so far in the process towards the enactment of the long awaited Access To Information Bill which is set to be presented to Parliament during the second half of this year.
Government has also opened up the airwaves for communities and the private sector to invest in the broadcasting industry.
In this regard, Government, under the leadership of His Excellency President Michael Chilufya Sata, has issued 10 radio licences and one (01) television licence since coming into office in September, 2011.
In addition, Government has issued 13 construction permits for community radio stations and four (04) construction permits for private television stations country-wide.
On the other hand, efforts to improve ZNBC radio reception country-wide, have intensified and ongoing.
FM transmitters have so far been installed in 25 districts country-wide while a further 25 districts are earmarked to receive the FM transmitters this year.
The programme earmarks to cover the whole country with a clean and clear radio signal from the national broadcaster.
This demonstrates the PF Government’s commitment to ensure free flow and public access to information, a pre-requisite for a thriving democracy.
Further and beyond this, the digital migration process is on course in line with both the regional and international deadlines while for the first time ever, Zambia has acquired the long awaited hologram, a key security feature for distinguishing original from pirated and counterfeit audio and video materials in enhancing the fight against piracy.
It has taken this Government less than a year to implement the hologram project that pended for 20 years under the previous Government.
These and other successes in the media sector could not have been possible without the effort and contribution of the civil servants in the Ministry under the guidance of Mr Malupenga as Permanent Secretary.
But Mr Mulongoti has deliberately chosen to side-step these landmark achievements to gain cheap political mileage.
This is not surprising as we know that Mr Mulongoti is a publicity seeker who has no restraint in twisting facts, as he has done, by attacking Mr Malupenga on a straight forward issue.
Mr Mulongoti is advised to concentrate on nurturing his newly born political Party rather than raising baseless accusations against an innocent person.
Government reiterates its unflinching commitment to the freedom and independence of the media.
Hon. Kennedy Sakeni, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING SERVICES AND CHIEF GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON
29th March, 2013