President Edgar Lungu has assured journalists that the State will not allow anyone to harass the media during the course of their duty.
President Lungu says he will not countenance violence on journalists adding that those who are in a habit of attacking journalists, whether Patriotic Front or opposition risk being prosecuted.
The President said this in a press statement issued by his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Isaac Chipampe.
The Head of State made the assurance this morning at State House when he held a virtual meeting with members of the Zambia Union of Journalist (ZUJ).
“ I must state that the space is not shrinking for journalists, it is not true. There are always bad eggs in society but it is the duty of the Police to ensure a safe environment for journalists. Violence against journalists is not part of the PF policy and anyone engaging in violence, whether PF or opposition will be arrested,” President Lungu warned.
The ZUJ members had requested to meet the President to discuss various matters affecting their members.
And President Lungu has allayed fears among journalists that there would be mass redundancies as result of the merger of Times Printpak Zambia Limited and the Zambia Daily Mail Limited.
According to ZUJ president Samuel Lukhanda, there is anxiety at Times Printpak Zambia Limited arising from the rumored merger of the two companies.
But President Lungu explained that the two companies will continue running separately despite having one Chief Executive. The two companies are under the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) whose chairman is President Lungu.
The Head of State disclosed that the two companies are in the process of restructuring and in the event that some redundancies happen, the affected employees will be paid their dues.
“Even if you are laid off, you will be paid and there is life after formal employment,” the President said, “I have heard of journalists who are now successful farmers of businessmen.
Meanwhile President Lungu has said the media plays a critical role in the democratic dispensation and this is why the government advocates for self-regulation of the media so that journalists operate freely.
He added that the government allows journalists to express themselves without hindrance.
At the same meeting, Mr Lukhanda informed the President that Journalists would like to be considered among the first people to be vaccinated against covid19 since they are also frontline workers to which the President agreed.
The ZUJ leader also informed the President that their salaries need to be improved and that they are in dire need of support from the government to cover the forthcoming elections.
In response to the request, President Lungu promised to help the journalists so that coverage of elections is not affected by logistical problems.
“Journalists need transport and other logistics, otherwise they will be susceptible to “blalizo”(Zambian journalists, term for corruption),” the President remarked.