The Media Institute of Southern Africa Zambia Chapter says it is pleased with the initiative taken by News Diggers to host a public debate on the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019 alongside Eden University, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Chapter One Foundation and Prime TV.
MISA Zambia Chapter Chairperson Helen Mwale has commended the responsible institutions for creating a platform where members of the public as well as selected office bearers were able to exchange views and opinions on matters that could affect the general citizenry which in this case is Bill No. 10 of 2019.
Ms Mwale says for citizens to be engaged, they need information that allows them to exercise democratic choices and debating platforms such as these will go a long way in achieving that.
She has called on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) emulate the move taken by News Diggers and its partners in creating debating platforms that seek to engage the citizens on issues of national interest.
Ms Mwale noted that citizens receive most of their information through the media and it shapes to a large extent what people think of the issues and institutions that affect them.
“Section 2 of the IBA Act, 2002, provides that “public broadcasting means a broadcasting service which serves the overall public interest and is accountable to the public as represented by an independent board, and defined by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Act; The ZNBC (Amendment) Act, 2002 stated that the function of the corporation shall be to provide varied and balanced programming for all sections of the populations and to serve the public interest”, she said.
Ms Mwale however said that MISA notes with concern the levels of intolerance exhibited towards opposing and divergent views that were expressed during the discussions. Article 20 of the constitution of Zambia regards Freedom of Expression allows for every citizen to express his/her opinion without hindrance.
She said the effective citizen participation is essential for good governance and promotes transparency from office bearers when debating issues of national and public interest.
Ms Mwale has further called on all well meaning citizens to desist from acts of hooliganism that was exhibited during the recently held debate. Every Zambian has the right to express their opinion on an issue that concerns them and not to be suppressed by those in opposition.