On Friday November 8th, while addressing journalists, President Edgar Lungu asked a question: Do our people believe everything they read on social media? He didn’t state his position but like it is said, actions speak louder than words. Social media clampdown by the government through arbitrary laws and in the form of Friday’s press conference is a clear indication that the President believes people believe everything they read on social media.
For one who follows Zambian politics closely, will agree that Friday media address to journalists was about reaffirming the fight against social media, which seems to be the biggest threat to the PF government future.
Remember, from day one, the day when President Edgar Lungu assumed office as Zambian President to date, social media has been received very negatively by his government. I do not recall a single day when PF government gave credit to social media apart from threats, warning, and arrest after arrest.
Again, if I have failed to grasp the point, please help me:
“You need to create a chasm between journalism and social media craze. This, no one can do apart from yourselves. Social media is for all; while journalism is for trained communicators. But if you allow all and sundry to masquerade as journalists, your profession will perish.”
Stay away from social media is my own interpretation of the passage. I may not be right. If I am right, isn’t advising journalists to avoid social media same as advising fishermen to avoid water? What is the major source of information for journalists?
Social media and journalism need each other. Running away from this truth is doing Zambia more harm than good. We must encourage the two to work together if we must make a better Zambia. Effort and energy must be spent on trying to accommodate social media instead of fighting it. It would have been very helpful if social media fans were represented at the recent Lungu’s media address to journalists. This negative approach is not working, why not try to approach social media in a positive way. Remember, social media is an industry like any other industry. If well managed, it has potential of playing very important role in our democracy process and the development of the country.
During his interaction with journalists, President Edgar Lungu also emphasized on the importance of individuals, groups, and organisations to lobby for themselves. As a fan of social media, I want to conclude by begging the government of Zambia to start working on a positive relationship with social media fans. Please consider social media fans a positive community.
By Venus N Msyani
Concerned citizen in the diaspora