MLC identifies ‘enemies’ as Mwamba responds

The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) has accused former president Fredrick Chiluba’ spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba and one MISA member Talent Ngandwe of being  enemies of media self regulation.

In a presss statement made available to the Watchdog, MLC spokesperson Amos Chanda said Emmanuel Mwamba and Talent Ng’andwe and others  have embarked on a disruptive campaign to derail this important national cause.

But in reaction Mwamba said the  allegations are clearly malicious and driven by an unjustified sense of paranoia.

In a letter of complaint to the MLC, Mwamba said that “your attacks are designed in my view, to cause hostility against me from the media fraternity, to alienate me from my colleagues and have the capacity to stifle me from participating in this important debate”

He accused the MLC of taking up ‘a posture notoriously practiced by dictatorship governments that are preoccupied with fears of unknown enemies’.

Chanda however said the MLC has made substantial progress towards the launch of the new all embracing media council by May 3, 2010.

He said the The MLC has completed the preparation of the necessary instruments required in the next steps towards the launch and will hold a national stakeholders conference by the end of this month where it will table these instruments, among them, the draft Code of Ethics.

Below is the full text of the statement:

STATEMENT BY THE MEDIA LIAISON COMMITTEE

16th February 2010

The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) has made substantial progress towards the launch of the new all embracing media council by May 3, 2010. The MLC has completed the preparation of the necessary instruments required in the next steps towards the launch and will hold a national stakeholders conference by the end of this month where it will table these instruments, among them, the draft Code of Ethics.

 It is expected that at this meeting delegates will agree on the formalities to phase out MECOZ and usher in the new self-regulatory body, the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC). The MLC also wishes to thank government for the space it has allowed media practitioners to develop a viable self-regulation mechanism.

The committee will this week give the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Lt. Gen. Rev. Ronnie Shikapwasha a detailed brief on the steps undertaken so far.

 The MLC however, regrets to learn that some journalists still want to derail this process, which has won the confidence of government and journalists. Two members of MISA, Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba and Mr. Talent Ng’andwe working with others, have embarked on a disruptive campaign to derail this important national cause.

 The MLC has to this effect requested MISA – Zambia, which is also chairing the MLC to take necessary steps to counsel their members against such misconduct. Their strange conduct over this matter does not serve the interests of the media industry.

At its review meeting on 15th February 2010, the MLC decided among other things that since the project media stakeholders have agreed on is voluntary and self-driven, those with organic objections to this inclusive process have an option to pursue their own agenda separate from this one. The self-regulatory mechanism we are working on is in the best interest of the media industry, the government and the general public. We therefore call for patience from all parties so that it is institutionalized.

The MLC is presently finalizing preparations for a broad-based national conference which will debate modalities of the new self-regulatory mechanism and institutional framework. This will be followed by a major publicity campaign to make Zambians understand the complaints procedure that will be adopted and put together by the national conference

 Amos Chanda

MLC SPOKESPERSON
Below is Emmanuel Mwamba’s response:

Emmanuel Mwamba
 

18th February 2010

The Chairperson,

MEDIA LIAISON COMMITTEE

LUSAKA

Chairperson,

RE: ALLEGATIONS THAT I AM DERAILING THE PROCESS OF SELF MEDIA REGULATION

I have learnt with shock that in your public press statement dated 17th February 2010, you made unfounded allegations against me and proceeded to name me without discernible justification, that I was the one who has ‘’embarked on a disruptive campaign to derail the process Self Media regulation)’’. (The Post, Thursday February 18, 2010).

I am unable to understand circumstances that led to your conclusions, but it is clear that your findings are based on conjecture and regrettably no attempt was made to contact me or hear me, before such opaque conclusions or findings were made against me.

Your allegations are clearly malicious and driven by an unjustified sense of paranoia.

Your committee chose to unfairly try me, and in my absence, without bothering to furnish me with such allegations and hastily passed an unfair judgement that I was ‘’working with others’’ to ‘’derail the process’’.

It is strange that your Committee has taken up a posture notoriously practiced by dictatorship governments that are preoccupied with fears of unknown enemies, or finding such enemies rising against them, or their national programs, or citizens they oppress by alleging that they are engaged in activities that may sabotage them or their achievements.

The analogy might be harsh, but the recent preoccupation of your committee on individuals such as myself, in my view, is taking away from the great work your Committee has achieved in the country and denigrating its standing despite the noble cause it is engaged in.

I am personally proud that your Committee will achieve the cause of self media regulation where others have failed, where exclusive processes were taken to punish and isolate certain media houses or where media activities were undertaken to prejudice others that failed to toil their line.

Therefore I was surprised by your unprovoked attacks against me. You attacks are designed in my view, to cause hostility against me from the media fraternity, to alienate me from my colleagues and have the capacity to stifle me from participating in this important debate.

I know that the Committee is not aware about my views about Media Regulation as I have not aired such views in public or on any of your forums. It is therefore surprising that you quickly concluded that I was engaged in activities that are designed to derail the process.

Your reference and direction that MISA should take necessary steps against me and others confirms information I have received from members of you Committee that there is an impatient agitation to expel me from MISA and PAZA. I wonder why you chose not to refer this matter to PAZA where I am also a member.

My association with MISA and PAZA is merely for professional purposes. I derive no benefit and contribute immensely to their work. I diligently attend their meetings, workshops and AGM purely for professional association, fellowship and interaction.

I was instrumental in the formation of MECOZ and I am keen to learn of circumstances of its demise and I intend to follow the birth of this new body.

It is a yearning of any journalist or media personnel that the profession is jealously protected, its ethics upheld and the work of such professionals be a proud product that promotes truth, fair and objective coverage.

In relation to the current debate and processes relating to the establishment of Zambia Media Council, an ethics body, it is important that a single view does not amount to dictatorship, that dissenting views are not stifled, that divergent views are allowed and that the process leading to the birth of this body is inclusive, promotes broad consensus and is not dominated by a single institution or view.

It is strange that we prod politicians to be transparent, to be accountable, to seek consensus yet we seem to renegade on the same principles. We also demand of politicians that they do not discriminate on the basis of creed and other humanly differences, that they should not prejudice matters or individuals and that whistle blowers (and not suspected criminals) are protected, yet we are quick to offend such principles.

As I conclude, I wish to however congratulate you on the great work you have done so far, the consensus you continue to build in the debate on Media Regulation, and the engagement and confidence you have achieved with government which is one of the important stakeholders.

I reiterate that I was mentioned unfairly in your press statement. I prefer that if extensive debate is conducted about an individual such as myself, it is important that you accord such persons a hearing through your member organisation or in the case where you intend to make damning conclusions; you afford them a hearing as required by basic principles of Natural Justice.

Thank you

Signed;

Emmanuel Mwamba

CC; The National Director

Media Institute of Southern Africa

MISA HOUSE

OLYMPIA

LUSAKA

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