Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Media In Zambia

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Chief Chitimukulu
Chief Chitimukulu

By Henry Kanyanta Sosala

The first problem is to define the role of the media in our democratic society which poses an inevitable dilemma especially during general elections in Zambia. Bias is difficult to define and harder to measure, but in general the popular concern is that editors and reporters allow their personal political beliefs to influence the stories that they choose to run and to colour the way in which they report them and the extent to which a reporter’s beliefs affect reporting varies greatly with the kind of story.

I believe it is common knowledge that press stories are often slanted and that journalist’s own political views, policy preferences and ideological dispositions bias their news coverage in general.

The relationship between journalism and politics is a two-way street: though politicians take advantage as they can of the communications media available to them, these media in turn attempt to use politics and politicians as a way of both entertaining and informing their audiences. And so whoever controls the mind controls the man. The ear is the gateway to the senses and that is why in what is called ‘’the power of the air,’’ all governments control the radio transmissions because whoever controls what is transmitted controls the person.

And the mass media, whatever their disclaimers are not simply mirrors held up to reality or a messenger that carries the news. There is inevitably a process of selection, of editing and of emphasis and this process reflects, to some degree, the way in which the media are organized; the kinds of audiences they seek to serve and the preferences and opinions of the members of the media.

However, there has always been an unhealthy relationship between those who govern and those who write. Politicians read and worry about newspaper editorials, something the average citizen rarely does. All public officials have a love-hate relationship with newspapers, television and other media of mass communication. However, they depend on the media for their advancement of their careers and policies, but fear the media’s power to criticize, expose and destroy. Politicians have become increasingly dependent on the media. Their efforts to woo the press have become ever greater and their expressions of rage and dismay when their courtship is spurned, even stronger.

We are now faced with two major problems in the media. The first is that newspaper private ownership are businesses that must make a profit and therefore that need for profit leads to distort the news coverage such as the criticism of public policy and the revelation of public scandal and the only way to attract a large readership is with sensationalism, violence, romance coupled with exposing of anything. And in fact, politicians create or sponsor newspapers to further their interests. And hence journalists within the private ownership, deliberately tend to create an adversarial press, (normally known as ‘’spinning’’ the news), which is to attack their sponsors’ critics.

And they apply what is called ‘’Floating trial balloons,’’ i.e., if you like someone call his ideas ‘’respected,’’ and if you don’t like the person call them ‘’controversial.

They are eager and compete to break embarrassing stories that will win for its author honour and prestige. Journalists help to make politicians popular by the trick of being ‘’mentioned.’’ There is something very important about being positively ‘’mentioned’’ regularly in the media.

Second, the newest electronic source of news is the internet. It is the ultimate free market in political news which no one can ban, control or regulate and no one can keep either facts or nonsense off it.

And it is here where we have a great problem with our local media because in this scenario the social media is not fed with news from professional journalists, but mostly from the ‘’muckraker.’’ (the term mostly used in the USA), but those of my generation who participated in horse betting know something about the horse-racing ‘’lingua,’’ i.e. ‘’muck’’ means ‘’manure’’ and by extension it refers to anything that is filthy or disgusting.

A muckraker is an unprofessional and unethical writer who searches through the activities of public figures seeking to expose any contrary conduct. Hence these intruders into this noble profession have created a national cynicism and distrust since their main objective is seizing upon any bit of information or rumour that might call into question the qualifications or character of anybody with opposing views to their sponsors. Media coverage of gaffes, i.e., misspoken words, misstated ideas, clumsy moves etc., have become a staple of political reporting. And falsely attacking public figures has become a norm, when once it was a professional taboo.

I am not here referring to ‘’yellow journalism’’ or ‘’elastic language,’’ but on the contrary they have resorted to reporting absolutely total lies. And I have personally been a victim of such reported lies. And it is now clear that ‘’corruption’’ and ‘’telling of lies’’ have become the graphic symbols of our nation and on the latter, President Edgar Lungu was quoted to have said, ‘’The problem, muma politics – boza (lies in politics), even in the opposition, there is boza; even in the ruling party there is boza…’’ (Saturday Times of Zambia 23rd September 2017).

And of course, the social media ‘’muckraker reporters’’ are operating in a conducive atmosphere since Zambian politics does not induce any sense of reality and one current notable feature is that politics is based on reactions to issues and not on principals or on sound reasoning. The political scenario appears to bear hallmarks of simple blind and personal struggles and hence with no ideology to sustain it except the monotonous trading of insults and the use of political thugs to bulldoze innocent people during election campaigns.

And unfortunately the Zambian media has finally lost international integrity since there is total lack of investigative or interpretive stories about issues and policies and hence investors cannot rely on false reports circulating in social media about the state of the nation. No one can blind the capitalist-exploiter with cooked lies since he knows much more than we Zambians know about our national affairs.

And that is why we are seeing so much investment especially in infrastructure development in our country inspite of the continued negative reports on the state of the nation? The foreign investors cannot risk to invest their money in an unstable environment and they rely on Insurance Premium Index and as at now, the insurance premium rates in the Sub-Sarahan Africa are lowest in Botwana, Mauritius and Zambia which means foreign investors are sure of their investments in this country.

The Author is Chief Chitimukulu, the Paramount Chief of the Bemba Speaking People in Northern Province of Zambia

56 COMMENTS

  1. Mwine lubemba I personally held you in high esteem as my chief and from the way you used to analyse issues. Nomba fye twalimisula from the time you started becoming partisan. Being a paramount chief, you should be above partisan politics. Learn from the Litunga who doesn’t lower himself by being partisan.

    • Mwine Lubemba, You have just nailed it with unparalleled precision. The Zambian media Corp lost it the time it picked up arranged political appointed jobs and protected opportunities of business extortions. They threw away all ethos and turned into agenda media outfits competing for opportunities and imaginary influence through political Patrionage. Both the pro Government and opposition press corps have lost it some resorted to kitchen sink consipiracy theories.

    • I didn’t read the article. The last one he penned that showed him a shameless lungu cadre had eroded the respect I had for him. How can it happen such an intelligent chief become a lungu arsse kisser?

    • but those of my generation who participated in horse betting know something about the horse-racing ‘’lingua,’’ i.e. ‘’muck’’ means ‘’manure’’ and by extension it refers to anything that is filthy or disgusting.

      Quote for today.
      Courtesy of the gambler chief chitimukulu.

    • Anyone who thinks Zambian politics are based on REAL IDIOLOGICAL CONVICTIONS by today’s politicians is living in fantasy world. No wonder you have politicians switching Parties like dirty underwear. And you have an unprofessional and unethical Zambian media cheering them on.

      Today you have Kambwili doing acting “hollier than thou” about corruption when only ‘yesterday’ defending and part of it. And no one in the media seems interested in exposing the hypocrisy. HH insults Judges from morning to evening “everyday” of his political career, with NO SHAME changes his tune just because he hears NEWS rumours that ECL said something about Judges. These are the kind of Politicians we have today in Zambian…. completely devoid of shame and principles. And the media seems all too…

    • Continue:
      … willing to join in and STROKE SOME EGOS and the process ‘feed the beast’, so to speak. That’s the sad state of what is left of our once RESPECTED news Media…and Mwene Lubemba the Chief is right on point on this one.

    • @Yambayamba, funny why th the Upnd bloggers don’t criticize pwetete chief Mukuni when he openly insults government.

    • I wish this man could use his intelligence to reduce poverty and hunger in Bemba land. Singing praises to Lungu is not helping the majority poor Bemba people. Just coming back from Kasama area to visit family, even when the farming season has started, people don’t have farm inputs yet, yet he is sing-praising Lungu instead of speaking for his people . Sad!!!!

    • This isn’t a particularly well researched and balanced piece from Chitimukulu – whose missives are otherwise usually intellectually and factually sound.

      We will let him off as everyone has their off day every now and then.

    • The Soviets provided details of Sputnik 1 before the launch but few outside the Soviet Union noticed. After reviewing information publicly available before the launch, the science writer Willy Ley wrote in 1958:
      If somebody tells me that he has the rockets to shoot — which we know from other sources, anyway — and tells me what he will shoot, how he will shoot it, and in general says virtually everything except for the precise date — well, what should I feel like if I’m surprised when the man shoots?”

    • @1 WHAT DO YOU MEAN, “…twalimisula..”?
      PLEASE, DO NOT SPEAK FOR EVERYONE IN GENERAL AND MYSELF IN PARTICULAR. I RESPECT MWINE LUBEMBA FOR ONE AND OTHER REASONS- HE IS A FIGHTER, AND HE WRITES NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. AND THIS IS WHY HE HAS HUGE READERSHIP FOLLOWING AND YOU ARE ONE OF THE READERS OF HIS ARTICLES. ONE OF BRITISH FRIENDS IS A FOLLOWER FOR MWINE LUBEMBA ARTICLES AND HE ALWAYS ASKS ME IF THERE’S AN ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER BY CHITIMUKULU. I ALWAYS DOWNLOAD AND SEND HIM EVERY ARTICLE. SO, STOP SAYING, “twalimisula”. WAISULA FYE WEMWINE.

    • I HAVE JUST READ THE MWINE LUBEMBA’S ARTICLE. ONE OR TWO NOTABLE ISSUES WHICH ARE VERY FACTUAL IS THAT,
      “unfortunately the Zambian media has finally lost international integrity since there is total lack of investigative or interpretive stories about issues and policies…”.
      TRULY, DURING THE GODWIN BWALYA MWANGILWA’S DAYS OF JOURNALISM, ZAMBIAN NEWSPAPERS WERE RATED AS THE BEST IN TERMS OF GRAMMAR AND NEWS CONTENT. THAT CAN NOT BE SAID OF ZAMBIA’S NEWS MEDIA TODAY. THE NEWS IS CONTROLLED BY, “MUCKRAKERS”. LET’S TAKE FOR INSTANCE LT. PEOPLE READ IT JUST BECAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY FREE AND HIGHLY ACCESSIBLE NEWS MEDIA. OTHERWISE, IF THE READERSHIP HAD CHOICE THERE WOULD BE NO WAY ANYONE COULD EVEN THINK OF LT. LT, IS A HEEP OF ALL ERRORS ONE CAN IMAGINE.

    • [email protected] “No one can blind the capitalist-exploiter with cooked lies since he knows much more than we Zambians know about our national affairs.”
      CAPITALISTS AS WELL AS IMPERIALISTS HAVE PRECISE KNOWLEDGE OF WHATEVER OBTAINS/EXISTS IN OUR AFRICAN COUNTRIES AND ZAMBIA IN THIS CASE IN THE CONTEXT OF POLITICAL STABILITY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, INCLUDING HUMAN. THEY CAN USE, “Insurance Premium Index” AND OTHER STATISTICS FROM OTHER NUMEROUS INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS. IN A NUTSHELL, THAT’S HOW OUR ZAMBIAN NEWS MEDIA LOSES. MULTI-NATIONAL COMPANIES HAVE NO TRUST IN THEM- THEREFORE, THEY CAN’T USE THEM AS NEWS SOURCE.

    • Mwine Lubemba writes an article and it quickly becomes a source of pain for untrained minds. Name calling and insults serve no duty except destruction from real issues. If what the Chief wrote differs from your world view of media press, you are at liberty to counter his opinion. Can we grow up for once.

  2. Well said by this progressive Chief Chitimukulu. Mukuni will do well to stop being an HH UPND puppet and write such creative pieces. TV and Radio mass media have evolved positively due to good quality competition. But
    most Zambian so called journalists are pure sh*t if Zambian witch dog is anything to go by. Zambian Eagle? what are they? insulters.
    LT stands out for fareness and accuracy though the editor still needs to go back to school for spelling and grammar. Mwebantu is just an advert show room now.
    The media operates very freely in Zambia which is a plus for our budding democracy.

  3. Thanks YRH Chitimukulu, but the problem starts yourself and all the Chiefs in Zambia , as even from your tone , I may even judge your political alignment, it is said lets call a spade , a spade . Napapata muleke bukandile as Chiefs , as this is killing our country . If i had to say most of the sold call Chiefs are just bakandile that is why country has alot of problems.

    I shall soon be 50 , also went in public life very young , so i had over 30years knowing where Zambia is coming from and going noway every day Corruption , lack of patriotism , but political patronage is the order of the day. Lets protect Zambia not the President , also lets protect the Presidency meaning conduct and behavior of the one in that office . Also that Chiefs help us to use our Culture , now you want to seen…

    • Well said. Mwinelubemba is pointing at the speck in other people’s eye while he has a mukula log in his own eye

  4. Ati ‘media in Zambia,’ like always this PF Chief trying to please his political handlers. In his every article he exposes himself as cadre that he has become. Why not write about issues that affects his subjects in his chieftaincy and the nation at largest. Zambia is indexed the 3rd hungriest nation on earth while the country is blessed by vast natural resources why not hold the politicians accountable than being being a political praise singer? Or better still on the subject that he chose to write ‘media in Zambia’ he should have gone wide and deep about issues affecting media. The muzzling of free press and public media institutions that refuse to cover opposing views only promotes evil and corruption and certainly not democracy. Like always not wanting to irritate his political…

  5. By far one of the greatest chiefs to grace Zambia. I wish more could be told on why His Excellency the late MC.SATA had not allowed him to take over the throne initially.
    He is the kind that can help in the development of Zambia. Long live Chitimukulu… A council of elders in GRZ with you in it to take development to the least of all would be a good idea

  6. The self professed pseudo intellectual pens anotber pro pf piece underr the guise of unbiased look ar the media..
    You are so obvious, next article see if you can disguise it better. How do the imperialist chinese exploiters manage to be given government awarded infrastructure contracts.. zambian people are really sated eating all that bitumen laid by the chinese for roads to nowhere. Next article quantify with substantiated documentation the financial benefits brought about by mile and miles of bitumen.As you say the zambian media has lost its international integrity. Amos Chanda is responsible for govt press releases an Sunday Chanda continues unabated with media releases. Interesting observation by the pseudo intellect

  7. And then? What’s the point of this article in which the only quoted print media is one of the public sewer spewers! Chitimukulu should also stop being didactic in his writing, providing definitions instead of just using concepts and having enough respect for his readers to look up meanings! Use your self delusional intellect to improve the human development index mu lubemba so that come 2021 your people will not vote based on tantameni for mere salt!

  8. This is a wise chief, just like chief Mumena, balanced and national in character. I wish we had more chiefs in Zambia like them, then we can appreciate chiefs as an integral part of our development and progress. Not tuma chiefs who are political cadres, promoting tribalism.

  9. Unashamed supporter of corruption and dictatorship this chief…….ati investors are still investing ……did this chief know Chinese and Indians invest with no ethics and invest as a way of off loading their unemployed as long as their unemployed subjects can come and make money they will borrow you money.

    Chief , all Zambians see corruption except you , are you a beneficiary of this corruption ?

  10. Zambia is the third hungriest country in the world. This means your subjects are very hungry right now as you are busy defending and taking a biased position on the state of the media in Zambia.
    Zambia needs someone to rather give government direction to on how to eradicate poverty. Redeem the citizenry of self inflicted poverty whose roots lie in the misguided leadership both past and present. There’s a deliberate effort to blind citizens of government inaccuracies and the correct prevailing state of affairs through state controlled media houses.
    With due respect Mwine Lubemba, lets talk the talk and walk the walk for a better Zambia.

  11. This a shameless native tribal chief who thinks the media should not write about corruption, nepotism and abuse of government resources because investors will be scared to invest in Zambia. What a bucket of chicken manure! Let him talk about wheel barrows costing $1 million each! What should the media say? Good buy? This Chief will blame himself for rubbing dog sh^t on his body!

  12. One of the things I was taught when I attended a short course at MEF was that as a journalist your duty is report objectively and not subjectively. Trying to insert some items in a report so as to influence the reader is not journalism. The habit crept in with the coming of Mr Mmembe on the scene. His Post never criticized Sata for appointments he gave to Edgar Lungu. There wa no mention that Edgar had stolen a clients money. But all this changed as soon as Edgar declared interest in the vacant seat. Report as it’s no how good or bad it is.

  13. Another brilliant piece from HRH. Certainly every journalist’s read, unless of course one is a ‘muckraker’ like most of those I see attacking him unobjectively. There’s a ‘muckracker’ assault on any little that remains of integrity reporting due to social media.
    Just listen to this: “Hence these intruders into this noble profession have created a national cynicism and distrust since their main objective is seizing upon any bit of information or rumour that might call into question the qualifications or character of anybody with opposing views to their sponsors”. And this:
    “No one can blind the capitalist-exploiter with cooked lies since he knows much more than we Zambians know about our national affairs”. How true!
    And someone says HRH is biased?! Tuletasha !

    • Which capitalist exploiter naimwe….the Chinese and Indians who own Zambia including ZNBC or the western capitalists where lungu is running to with his tail between his legs to beg for a bailout st the IMF ???

  14. I suspect Kanyanta Sosala wants to do or say the right things but he has been seriously compromised by state machinery. The late Mobutu was a master at seriously compromising his opponents, often giving them big positions or simply suffocating them with cash. Time will tell about Sosala.

  15. This bemba chief is a let down let him sit down and reflect who was with him when PF was sorting him out one would think they had a point . Shame to you chief

  16. yes yambayamba i concur with you since hh does not watch znbc just head from his mps ,from there went to hold a press briefing this man i dont know

  17. His Royal HIghness The Mwine Lubemba points to a critical national issue, it’s true that our media which has a strong influence on the mind of the average Zambian is actually in shambles.

    The Royal One is Right and clearly means well.

  18. I have read the article. I am very impressed that we have a Chief who can write articles that are important and without any political bias. Mulopwe kanabesa, Chiti Mukulu God bless you. Your article is very informative and guiding positively without bias.
    I am very disappointed with most of the bloggers who have posted unfair comments WITHOUT EVEN READING the article the Chief has written (some bloggers have even the audacity to mention that they have not read and you wonder why they should comment on the article which they have not read). … to be continued

  19. ……continued…This tells you that most bloggers have closed minds to the truth and they just comment based on the tribal grouping of the writer. They just dismiss what is written as long as the writer is not of their tribal grouping or has different political persuasion. What kind of society do we want to create. A society that is divided, a society that does not read but wants to comment and feed lies to the innocent people. Every place where genocide happened mainly started with hate speech and tribal hate. Let us be careful for our own sake and the sake of our future generation

  20. Some UPND cadre dunderheads cannot comprehend what the Mwinilubemba has propounded except insulting him but be reminded that your Supreme Leader whom you worship will never win the Presidency by using fake Journalists…

  21. It is encouraging to read HRH’s article which is informative with a good observation of what is going on in the Zambian media today. Let the scribes take note of what has been said.

  22. YRH! If to you good journalism is covering the wrongs of those in power (i.e not wanting to expose their wrong doings) then u go b schooled properly. As a chief, you should even encourage journalists to be more investigate and bring to light th filthy that those holding public offices are covering. I wonder wat u and th pipo holding public offices are doing that you dont want to be exposed of. It is unbefiting of a person of yo status wanting to school th masses wit wrong philosophy!!

  23. Agreeing with Ndate, it is common knowledge how a news source is funded should reflect how it writes! But the public media horribly fails this litmus test! And this is the real reason our media sources have lost any international recognition.

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