Government has dismissed allegations that the proposed media bill is aimed at fixing The Post Newspaper and its editor Fred M’membe as it has been reported in today’s edition of the same tabloid.
Chief Government Spokesperson Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha described the story as a total fabrication which is aimed at misleading the people in the country.
Gen Shikapwasha, who is also Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, said government is extremely disappointed with the unethical reporting exhibited by newspaper and accused it of deliberately failing to balance the story by getting a comment from government on the matter.
He said in a statement Wedenesday that it was such unethical tendencies that were making people call for media regulation.
He said The Post Newspaper was not only portraying unethical reporting but also deliberately showing ignorance of the legislative process to mislead the people.
General Shikapwasha said the Vice President does not make laws in Zambia as has been insinuated in the story carried by the Post Newspaper’s edition of today.
“Making of laws has a procedure, which The Post newspaper is pretending not to know. Drafting of a bill is initiated by the Ministry of Justice then the draft goes to the stakeholders for input. Thereafter, the bill goes to the Legislation Committee, Cabinet and then Parliamentary Committee. The Parliamentary Committee further calls for submissions from stakeholders. The draft bill is then debated by , at which point it is either passed or rejected,” Gen Shikapwasha explained.
Gen Shikapwasha therefore said the Post Newspaper was deliberately misleading the nation by stating that the Vice President would take advantage of the President’s long absence to push his agenda.
He stressed that there can be no law that can be made in the absence of the President because the President chairs cabinet and also signs Acts of Parliament.
Gen Shikapwasha urged the Zambian people to dismiss cheap allegations that Vice President George Kunda was making his own law.
“The media bill is under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services. At an appropriate stage the ministry will call stakeholders, including the Post Newspaper, to review the draft bill”, Gen Shikapwasha said.
He assured the nation that the drafting of a media bill is not intended to fix any media house or individual because that has never been government’s intention.
He added that government has always been committed to seeing media practitioners come up with a self-regulatory mechanism.
The minister alleged that the statement attributed to mysterious sources in the Ministry of Justice was just a mere manipulation and distortion of the situation, which was aimed at covering up the media practitioners’ failure to meet the six months deadline.
“Government has promised the nation that should the media fail to produce self-regulation mechanism within six months, it would provide an alternative. There is therefore, absolutely nothing wrong with government taking steps to draft the media bill, which will be an alternative,” he said.
Gen Shikapwasha has also disclosed that work was already in progress and that stakeholders would be involved at an appropriate time to contribute to the process.
He urged the Post Newspaper to concentrate on informing the nation on how far the media practitioners have gone in formulating a self-regulatory mechanism instead of misleading the people.