Chipangali MP Vincent Mwale
Chipangali MP Vincent Mwale

THE Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) is advising journalists against colluding with government officials to leak state documents.

In a statement ZUJ secretary general Angela Chishimba said the union is concerned that the Access to Information Bill might not be tabled before parliament because Government feels some media institutions lack responsible reporting.

“First, ZUJ agrees with Government concerns over too many leakages from Government institutions and wonders whether there is collusion between some government officers and some journalists, and if so, what is the motive of these journalists and Government officials,” she asked.

Ms Chsihimba said, “As ZUJ we feel the cure of leakages would in fact be the passing of the ATI which would allow free flow of information, barring that which borders on national security.”

Although, agreeing with Government concerns about continued leakages, ZUJ however feels the laws as they stand on media are inimical to press freedom as journalists may be arrested for leaking documents of any kind as long as they are marked “Secret”.

ZUJ, therefore, advises journalists to desist from colluding with Government officials to leak documents because they risk being arrested and exposing the country to security threats.

Much as we promote investigative journalism, journalists should know that they risk being sent to jail if they are caught.

It should also be noted that the advantages of the ATI being passed is not just to the advantage of journalists but of all Zambians and the country as a whole, therefore, this should not be torpedoed by a few journalists.

Therefore, let us be responsible by not allowing government to withdraw its intentions of taking the bill to parliament because of our actions as journalists.

Meanwhile, Media Institute if Southern Africa (MISA) as expressed its disappointment with the sentiments uttered by the republican President Edgar Lungu displaying reluctance to enact the Access to Information (ATI) bill.

MISA chairperson Hellen Mwale in a statement said; “We wish to remind the President that the ATI law is not for journalists but for the citizens of this country that elected him into office. It is worth noting that progressive governments world over are moving towards open governance systems that encourage transparency and citizen participation in decision making.

The statement by the President is a sign that the government doesn’t have respect for people because it shows that the PF had no intention of enacting the ATI bill into law.

This statement by the President is a sign that the PF administration does not understand ATI and we conclude that the PF right from the start had no intentions of enacting the law. The ATI bill if enacted has some provisions of how to deal with state secret matters and instead of pushing for quick enactment the President has instead negated any efforts made so far.

President Lungu in particular must bear the blame, we dissociate the media from the blame.
It is the ordinary citizens of this country that stand to benefit as they will be able to make informed decisions based on substantial information relating to their communities and society at large.

In the recent week unveiling the World Press Freedom day which fell on 3 rd May, 2015 we have been closely monitoring government pronouncements on media freedoms and particularly the ATI law.

While we do not agree with the media being irresponsible, we put the blame on the government for subjecting the country and media to a hide and seek game, where the government hides some information and sets the media to seek that which is hidden – this is the current scenario.

It is further saddening that government has continued on a path of complacency after four years in office having stalled the enactment of the ATI bill on five consecutive occasions since 2011.

There has been no concrete will from government to have this very important aspect of democracy enshrined in the law and this has been confirmed by President Lungu’s statement on ATI.

MISA Zambia therefore reiterates its call for government to immediately give a clear roadmap (and timeframe) for the enactment of the ATI bill as promised three years ago in its campaign manifesto on which it was elected into power.

We would also like to appeal to the Ministry of Information, Ministry of Justice, the ttorney-

General’s Office and Cabinet to expedite the process of the enactment of the ATI bill.

We wish to remind President Lungu that Zambia needs the ATI law before the general elections in 2016 as this will help citizens make informed decisions.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. That is why the freedom of information bill is required asap.

    The Skeleton Key
    ~206~

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    • PF are clueless, Lungu is a lawyer but wants to act like he’s uneducated.

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  2. Chishimba let us not be tribal or caders but professioal.
    In your own thinking its right for government to hide loans contracted on behalf of Zambians?
    Which state documents are those which can not be shared with us voters?
    On this one bravo Zambian watch dog and the post we want transparency in the way we are dealing with state resources.
    Lungu denied this but why summoning post journalists to the police?
    Truth pains so can this union justify its presence not a mouth piece of corrupt government.
    In normal countries it would have been the Police to summon cabinet on hiding the loan from the public.

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  3. This Angela Chishimaba must be a PF cadre. To her it is okay for her government to hide a US$192 million loan from the citizens. And to her it is okay for the government to hide information. What a journalist! Clearly she is the type who was trained to report, “President Lungu says…”, “The minister of Home Affairs says….”, “The first lady said….” Useless typical Zambian journalism.

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    • @3 ONE DOESN’T NEED TO BE A PF CADRE TO SEE AND KNOW HOW THE COUNTRY CAN BE PUT IN DANGER DUE TO AN FEW IRRESPONSIBLE NEWSPAPERS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. THE PROBLEM IN ZAMBIA IS NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN JAILED FOR LEAKAGE OF INFORMATION ESPECIALLY THAT BORDERING ON STATE SECURITY. IT’S LIKE THOSE WHO ARE INVOLVED IN RESELLING LAND CORRUPTLY EVEN IF THEY KNOW THAT THAT LAND BELONGS TO ANOTHER PERSON OR ORGANISATION. THERE ALSO THOSE WHO SELL LAND TO PEOPLE WITHOUT LETTERS OF OFFER FROM COUNCILS AS LONG AS THEY ARE BRIBED. THIS IS WRONG AND CRIMINAL AND THE PEOPLE INVOLVED SHOULD BE PROSECUTED AND JAILED ONCE FOUND GUILTY TO SET A DETERRENT EXAMPLE. JUST TALKING ABOUT IT WILL NEVER SOLVE ANY PROBLEM. LAWS MUST HAVE TEETH REGARDLESS OF WHO IS INVOLVED.

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  4. A vibrant, free press is best for all. Some media outlets overreach, either due to incompetence or to provoke a reaction. But to threaten delayed passage of this much-needed bill is not governance but an excuse–talk of ‘irresponsible media’ being used as a cover for inaction. Irresponsible can also be defined as reporting on issues that make those in power uncomfortable.

    That’s how it’s supposed to be. ‘Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’ is a long-standing tenet of good journalism. Bad reporting and reporters will fall on their merits but that’s for the public to decide, not the government. I’d rather the press operate from another old tenet–‘All governments lie’–than parrot spokespeople and cozy up to state house.

    P.S. your ALL CAPS key appears to be…

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    • Some people!! How do you entertain someone obtaining a loan on your behalf and then hiding it. We are the ones who are going to pay it back, or our children so Peter even if you are a cadre don’t always support everything the government does.

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  5. I am really confused is Angela a real journalist. I believe leaked documents are the bread and butter of real journalists all over the world. Shame we can have a union of journalists with such twisted view of the role of the fourth estate. Better to keep quiet then show your lack of journalistic instincts.

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  6. We need whistle blowers. People need to fight for their rights and not be intimidated by Lungu and his cartel of thieves. They are upset because the nation is aware of the funding which does not make sense. They planned to share the money among themselves while children have no desks/chairs in a class room and sit on the floor. UNZA students don’t have necessities to further their education. While we have morons saying youth are responsible for themselves. Yet their children are in private schools abroad using government money. Meanwhile they are distributing resources meant to benefit the nation as a whole among themselves. These useless uncivilized retards in government abusing funding and the reason Zambia is dependent on borrowing. The very worst is Empty Tin Can Kambwili.

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  7. Continue leaking all unjustified behaviors. There is no place in this Century for rogue executives who think the electorate is blind and the citizen is a vassal. Undress, uncover, shame them all. And that silly excuse of security must not be entertained because most acts are pure theft or blatant abuse of statutes!!! Leak it all like a broken pail…

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