The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Regional Secretariat in Namibia has expressed deep concern at the Zambian Government attempt to impose statutory regulation on the media and has called on the Zambian media to unite in rejecting the move.
MISA Regional Director Kaitira Kandjii says Government’s insistence on a statutory media self-regulation mechanism is inappropriate, unnecessary and aimed at nothing but controlling the media.
He says the stunt by government is in bad faith and a strategy to curtail media independence and freedom in Zambia.
Mr Kandjii says it unacceptable and gravely worrying that Government should seek to impose its will and overturn the Fringilla consensus on what self-regulation system suits the media.
He notes that the Zambian media have made credible efforts in to develop a mechanism to regulate themselves under difficult circumstances, characterized by unending threats.
He adds that at a minimum, Government has a duty to support, and not impose and jeopardize this process.
Mr Kandjii further states that voluntary, non-statutory media councils are the recommended form of media regulation under international law, including article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.
He says MISA finds it disturbing that Government keeps changing its positions, having earlier supported the efforts of the Media Liaison Committee, describing the U-turn as unfortunate and one that raises suspicion
He adds that MISA is left to wonder what the true intentions of Government have been all along.
Mr Kandjii further adds that the Kenyan mode of statutory self regulation which Government favors is not an option for Zambia, observing that a statutory regulatory mechanism in whatever form shape, will undermine Article 20 of the Zambian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, including media freedom.
He has since called on the Zambian Government to urgently review its stance on statutory regulation, and end its circus.