Minister of Information and Media Chushi Kasanda says the realignment, renaming and change of the nomenclature of the former Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services reaffirms that her ministry is responsible for all forms of mass media and not just broadcasting.
Ms. Kasanda says this is because the ministry has always been responsible for all forms of mass media, that is, both print and electronic.
Speaking during a meeting with senior management of the Ministry of Information and Media in Lusaka today, Ms. Kasanda said the realignment and renaming of the Ministry has also resulted in a slight adjustment in the portfolio functions of the ministry.
“As you may be aware, this Ministry has been realigned and renamed. It was formerly called Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services. It is now called the Ministry of Information and Media. This has since been approved by the National Assembly, as required by the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia,” she said.
She said under the new arrangement the Cinematography Policy and Theatre Policy which were previously held by the Ministry have now been transferred to other line ministries.
Ms. Kasanda named the Ministry’s revised core functions as Broadcasting and television services; Information and Media Policy; and Information Services.
She explained that under the three core functions, President Hakainde Hichilema has tasked the ministry to prioritise the enactment of the Access to Information legislation which she described as key to the promotion of transparency, good governance and full participation of citizens in the democratic process.
The Minister said this is also in line with international standards, taking into account the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Principles which were endorsed by Commonwealth Law Ministers and noted by Heads of Government in Durban in 1999.
“As this meeting progresses, I will be getting an update from the Permanent Secretary and the team, so that we make resolutions on the next steps. We will not be looking at why previous governments did not enact the legislation. The President has directed that Access to Information legislation must be enacted. We have to move in that direction and we will move with speed,” Ms. Kasanda said.
On Media self-regulation, Ms Kasanda said the United Party for National Development (UPND) believes that media organisations and journalists should set and supervise their professional standards and codes of practice.
She said Government also wants media owners to recognise that ownership entails a commitment to inform citizens about matters of public interest and not merely to advance partisan or personal interests.
Ms. Kasanda observed that it is part of the media’s responsibility to ensure that journalists are adequately trained and that their private interests do not distort their reporting of public issues.
“Journalistic ethics require that the media should report accurately and fairly, issue corrections, allow a fair opportunity to reply when appropriate and, subject to legitimate public interest, respect the right to privacy, particularly of minors,” Ms. Kasanda advised.
The Minister also advised the media and journalists’ organisations to establish credible complaints systems to adjudicate on alleged breaches of professional codes of practice and to provide members of the public with effective redress for unprofessional behavioural conduct.
“In view of the foregoing, I will be getting an updated from the Permanent Secretary and his team on how far the process of establishing a media self-regulation mechanism has gone. We need to conclude this process as soon as possible,” she added.
And Ms. Kasanda has said the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) is a media platform for all Zambians to exercise their freedom of expression.
Commenting on the Editorial Independence of ZNBC which she said will be one of her key priorities, Ms. Kasanda said freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy and underpins good governance, public accountability and respect for all human rights.
She said the UPND-led government respects the right to freedom of expression and will promote the free flow of information and ideas by allowing ZNBC to operate as a public broadcaster so that whoever is not covered by the private media will find space on the ZNBC platform.
“We will enhance legislation so that ZNBC and other public media outlets serve as common platforms for all Zambians to exercise their freedom of expression. People’s expectations of this government are very high and the President has said that weshould exceed the people’s expectations. We will be addressing a lot of issues in the information and media sector,” Ms. Kasanda assured.
Yesterday, parliament approved the realignment, renaming and change of the nomenclature of the then Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services now called the Ministry of Information and Media.