Open Letter to ZAMEC leaders

The registration of the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC) by the Media Liaison Council (MLC) requires immediate action and corrective measure by the media fraternity. I have strong reservations to attempts by the MLC to register and launch ZAMEC in the manner that it has done.
The leaders of the MLC have registered ZAMEC as a limited company with the Patents and Company Registration Agency (PACRA). This is a mistake. ZAMEC is a society and an NGO and therefore required to be registered by The Registrar of Societies and not by PACRA.
The deliberate move by the MLC to register ZAMEC as a limited company is designed to allow them to escape necessary scrutiny and stringent requirements at formation and its later operations. This is in violation of principles of transparency and good governance that govern such societies. I am aware that a dangerous trend has emerged where NGOs such as Father Frank Bwalya’s Change Life Zambia, are registering their entities as limited companies under PACRA. The clause that allows this registration is designed for charities and trusts. ZAMEC is neither a charity nor Trust organisation.
Further the formation of ZAMEC was shrouded in legal limbo and legitimacy crisis from the beginning. The meeting of 5th May 2010 was a mere consensus building workshop to discuss the possible formation of ZAMEC, draft its constitution and later, a formal AGM was to be called to legalise and legitimise the resolutions. The AGM was to be attended by all stake holders and members or their delegated and approved representatives with powers to vote.
However, despite protestations, the organisers of this meeting illegally turned this workshop into a General Conference, proceeded to adopt the Constitution and formed ZAMEC thereby excising powers the meeting did not have. They even attempted launch ZAMEC at the end of the conference. This was highly irregular as most people that attended the meeting came for a consensus building meeting and did not therefore come to a General Conference to form and launch ZAMEC. They did not have delegated authority from their institutions to vote or make such decisions.
Unlike the Fringilla Consensus signed by heads of institutions that agreed on the broad modalities to form a self regulatory mechanism, the 5th May 2010 meeting lacked such representation. Although attendees came from most institutions, records will show that heads of institutions from major media organisations such as ZNBC, Times, Daily Mail, ZANIS etc were not present in the meeting.
I urge the MLC to follow both legal and legitimate means to form and register ZAMEC if it has to receive acceptance from media practitioners, stakeholders and members of the public. Further, leaders of certain media associations such as PAZA lack legitimacy as their mandates expired many years ago and have not held any AGM since then. So they speak without the mandate and authority of their members. Such associations should take a cue from MISA which recently resolved its leadership wrangles through an Annual General Meeting that even ushered in a new and legitimate leadership.
Emmanuel Mwamba

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