Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Proactively sharing information can destroy “bad” media


Chibamba Kanyama
Chibamba Kanyama

State House Spokesman and media advisor to the Head of State, Amos Chanda, has castigated sections of the media for grossly peddling lies. The issue of ‘bad’ media has been of great concern to me and several other citizens who seek for professional journalism. I also believe it is in the power of authorities to make ‘bad’ media irrelevant in the eyes of the public.

MY EXPERIENCE: I have shared on this Facebook page before about my many encounters with President Michael Sata at the time I served as Director General of ZNBC. One of the incidents related to his anxiety about broadcasting the proceedings of the Barotseland Convention. He suggested blacking out the story in national interest and I countered that doing so would give credence to private and social media who would grossly distort information, forcing his ministers to later seek to ‘correct the record’ on an event public media never covered in the first place. He withdrew the suggestion, we covered the event.

In another meeting attended by public media heads (ZNBC, Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail), and George Chella, the Media Advisor to the President at the time, concerns were raised to the President about the gratuitous interference by some ministers in our operations. President Sata’s response in summary; ‘I want more voices, critical voices from Kanyama, Mandevu, Matero…I want to see their cries on ZNBC to help me know the truth about what is happening; do not censor them….Do not only cover (Wynter) Kabimba attacking GBM (Geoffrey Bwalya) or GBM attacking Kabimba. Cover both so that I analyse them better.’

There were challenges in the ZNBC newsroom of editors failing to reform, shutting off certain voices despite the instruction to project balanced, objective and fair information. One editor said, ‘Sir, we are doing this to protect government and your job.’ The contrary view, which I still stand for, is that Government is not protected by half-truths or distorted information. On the contrary, the best way to destroy the integrity of government is to hide correct information; by doing so, the public begins to mistrust their own government, an extremely dangerous state in governance.

PROACTIVE ENGAGEMENT: I strongly advise those responsible for Government communications to be very proactive in the handling of information. This, to some extent, destroys ‘bad’ media. For example, government can easily publish all institutions, by name, that benefitted from the three Eurobonds. That is public information and we do not want any manner of speculation on information of this nature. On the recently published Presidential trips, government can quickly call the Auditor General to publish the correct information. Imagine what that would do to the media house that published this information. Only irresponsible and unpatriotic citizens would spend a dime on such a newspaper because the truth would have been laid bare.

LEARNING FROM IMF: This institution has revolutionised its media engagement after learning the hard lesson during the 1998 Asian Crisis. It’s media engagement policy at that time was, ‘never say anything to the media; you are safe that way.’ Today, the IMF has moved from about three communications experts in the 1990s to nearly 130 today, all focused on proactively engaging stakeholders on providing information, even on things of low public interest. The 2014 IMF Global Opinion Survey we carried out at the time I served as Communications Advisor, revealed that the IMF is now among the world’s most trusted organisations; not that the public agrees and supports its policies, but that many believe what it says is highly authentic.

In short, my young brother, Amos Chanda, the gentleman I hold in high esteem, can easily apply two Bible verses that have shaped my thinking about increasing trust and credibility,

‘For you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free’ John 8.32. ‘For we can do nothing against the truth but for the truth.’ 2 Cor 13.8


    • Axiomatic … I have said it before and I am glad Ba Kanyama is saying loud and clear. Politics follows the French Rule of Justice. You’re guilty until proven innocent!!

      GRZ and any other government will therefore be always perceived that way. The onus is on them to disseminate all the empirical evidence on all data. In 2012, President Barak Obama almost lost re-election.

      His opponents had a barrage of mis-information against him until President Clinton joined the campaign as his number 1 supporter countering all the data with empirical evidence from all government agencies.

      The American people saw for themselves what was true and distinguished it from lies … the rest is history.

    • So Ka Amos, there you go, tell the truth than try to pretend and impressing your Drunken Boss. Someone will Die of a heart attack when he loses the election. Go on lying. The truth shall come out.

    • Amos Chanda and Sunday Chanda lie through their teeth day in and day out…well I guess they are that damn not to know that it is their clueless Boss Edgar they are hurting. People should learn lessons from ZNBC, no one takes that institution anymore


      Ba Chibamba does this apply to the fiction in this selfsame bible?

  1. Thank you Chibamba. Unfortunately, this proactive sharing of info is not forth coming from Government. Citizens are relying on rumors.

    • You have said it; Chibamba. I pray they listen. Or ignore your seasoned advice to their own peril; these charlatans!!!

  2. We know from experience that both the public media and private media have peddled lies to suit their interests or agendas. Public media tends to black out certain news.Public media wants to always “toe the party lines” if I can remember the KK days. Public media dangerously keeps certain information to itself or is at the mercy of the ruling elite who dictate what is news and what isn’t news. Look at ZNBC, the first news item is ALWAYS news relating to the executive wing of government.Look at the broadcasting stations worldwide, they have so much to cover of national interests that the executive arm of government is not ALWAYS a priority. Because of stereo-type kind of broadcasting at ZNBC, no wonder it is comically referred to as DeadNBC. It’s dead to society but alive in the hearts…

  3. Continued… It’s dead to society but alive in the hearts of the ruling elite. As Chibamba as quoted, only the truth shall set you free, which is hardly the case with politicians. We have past editors-in-chief of public media, if we were to converge a Media Truth and Reconciliation indaba specifically for media, we can be surprised at what these former media heads kept out as truth and chose to peddle lies for political expediency. Ask them, they will tell you, and if they still want to lie they might claim they swore oath of secrecy- simply put, swear to not tell the truth always coz “we got a government to run gentlemen..”

  4. All we need at Lusaka times is two of such articles per day. This is the sort of quality we need as Zambia. Thanks Chibamba. I hope and really hope the Amos and the Head of State will have a chance to read this.
    The quality of thinking in this article has attracted my attention. If we had two Chibamba’s, then the media Fraternity in Zambia would have been great. Keep on helping even in your private capacity Chibamba.
    I am impressed. If I was in LSK, I would have liked to meet Chibamba and personally say thanks. If I was head of state, this sort of article would have been enough to persuade me to bring Chibamba closer to me. Look at the cr.ap we are subjected to by the observer and watchd.og

  5. Well said Mr. Kanyama. transparency is the critical for credibility.
    EL will do well to adopt the late MCS sentiments.

    GRZ should just publish the actual expenditure on the trip via AG office. This will make all suspicion vanish like a dense mist when the sun rises. It will also descredit the responsible media houses. As it is Amos I just raging and ranting and trying to bully the media. Just give us evidence baba and we will be right behind you in condemning diggers!

  6. He who laughs at another person’s tattered shots should start by checking his own. Chibamba Kanyama shouldn’t be behaving as though those at ZNBC are failing to air the news knowing the conditions they are operating in. They are made to sensor most of the news some of it doesn’t even reach us the citizens. Even during his tenure at ZNBC this was the case so for him to say this is pointless now that he is no longer a media reporter…….

    • Observer,
      You have missed it! Chibamba is advising Amos and government on how to counter bad media. He has acknowledged their influence by quoting his previous engagements with the ‘powers that was’ and the stance they took.
      Read again the man is not pointing any finger at ZNBC.

  7. Politicians world-over are allergic to truth. They would rather lie at the altar of political expediency.Because politicians lie, even their press aides lie and lie on their behalf. And because public media always aligns itself with the ruling regime, telling the truth becomes a tall order, all things considered. It is said that when former US president George Bush was quizzed by the press if it was true his press aide always told him what to do and say, the press aide quickly whispered to George Bush ” Tell them it’s not true”, and George Bush told the press, “it’s not true”. Meaning he didn’t tell the truth that the press aide actually always told him what to say or do. So, as Chibamba quotes, “truth shall set you free”. Truth did a boomerang on George Bush.

  8. These ZNBC Director Generals including Chibamba have done very little to help that institution to reform both then and now. How can ZNBC news just air PF propaganda. And this notion that each time a minister opens his mouth, then it’s always news, is just beyond comprehension. This is extremely primitive to say the least. It is a national broadcaster run by tax payers money, so every body must be covered on a daily basis

  9. The simple solution is just that Government should not be involved in the dissemination of news. News should be dispensed by observers who are unattached to the government. The government is but a newsmaker. It should not manufacture news

  10. The distinction between private media houses and public media houses needs to be maintained. Efforts to obscure the difference in the respective editorial policy frameworks is misleading. Two, social media can be at service of public interests or at the service of private interests. It is necessary for government policy to channel out through any media, whether public whether private whether social. Faction news can be well managed. When it is well managed, then government policies will reach the public in the proper perspective.

  11. The truth of the matter is the truth that there is no truth but the truth that each of us think is the truth.

  12. Hog wash!! Bad media is bad media. Serves the needs of those on scotch campaigns. Facts are there in black and white in the legal declarations of the Presidents’assets, listings of share holders in stated companies and the Auditor General’s reports.

    I am so riled and so are many keeping quite to show these detractors in 2021 that power cannot be wrestled but earned.

  13. Working for ZNBC should be the most boring of jobs! Imagine suspending your brain and dancing to the tune of the powers that be, and for ages… My God… You end up becoming dull, weh!!

  14. Dr. Myles Monroe once said, ”Nothing is more dangerous than a powerful fool!! ” We have seen this to be true with most, if not all, of Zambia’s Governments. It’s only our beloved President Michael Sata who really wanted to know what the common man’s cries were. He had a genuine heart for the people and wanted to see their lives improved while everyone else boasts about how much money they have as if that’s the reason we voted for them… Wasted votes!!

  15. Who ever does not want to inform has something worth not informing. People make their own conclusions when not told. The better you guys heed Kanyamas advise the better. I was chatting colleagues today somewhere. I tell you someone is being mislead. The earlier the correct information reaches this person the better for him and the party. People are angry out there and its not a joke. Worse its those who are even earning a salary. What about those who do not even have ibala. Please please i plead with you guys. People need to be given information and that information should be truthful. Period. There are all waiting for 2021. They say we do not want war but we will wait for 2021.

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