The Southern Africa Editors’ Forum (SAEF) says there is no ‘criminal law’ in Zambia that prohibits Journalists from submitting stories to online media publications.
And Dora Siliya has condemned the harassment of journalists perceived to be working for the Zambian Watchdog by state agents.
SAEF President Kenny Makungu says Journalists and any member of the general public should be free to write stories to online publications without intimidation.
Mr. Makungu has for this reason urged the PF Government to remove all inimical and barbaric laws to media freedom like other countries have done especially in West Africa.
“It’s not criminal to submit stories to online publications because there is no law in Zambia that impedes Journalists or any other person to write a story or submit an article to the Watchdog or any other online media,” Mr. Makungu said.
The SAEF President was speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka on Sunday
He was flanked by SAEF Secretary General Patson Phiri, Treasurer Enock Ngoma, and Committee member, Chansa Mayani.
“We recommend that the Zambian government should remove all the laws inimical to media freedom and withdraw cases involving their professional activities, ” he said.
Mr. Makungu who is also a lecturer in Masscommuication at the University of Zambia ( UNZA ) school of mass communication , said this in the wake of recent harassment of Zambian Journalists who were harassed this month in their course of duties.
He advised Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Joseph Katema to ensure that media personnel and houses operate without any form of intimidation.
He said government through Katema’s ministry should ensure that journalists are protected as a fourth estate who disseminate, educate and entertain the people on a daily basis.
Mr. Makungu said the harassment of Journalists by Police Officers was bad for democracy and media freedom.
On the Freedom of Access Bill, Mr. Makungu urged government to table the Bill in this current session of Parliament.
Mr. Makungu urged the PF Government to change archaic laws that affect the free flow of news in the country.
Meanwhile, former transport and communications minister Dora Siliya has described the attacks and beating up of journalists and a former Times of Zambia marketing official as barbaric and shameful and has called for the prosecution of the people perpetrating violence against media personnel in the country.
Ms Siliya said she is deeply saddened to learn that some journalists and a former Times of Zambia marketing official were on Friday night ambushed by some known people on suspicion that they were writing for the Zambian Watchdog which has been curtly criticizing the Patriotic Front (PF) government.
Ms Siliya who is former Peteuke MMD member of Parliament said Zambians would not keep quiet and watch their country deteriorate to a point where violence was acceptable stating that on matter how much brutal and barbaric any regime would aspire to be, citizens would never be cowed into intimidation.
She called on all institutions of governance such as the Police, Judiciary, Parliament, political parties, the media and the civil society organisations as well as the church to reflect strongly frown upon any group perpetrating violence against innocent citizens such as journalists.
On Friday night, freelance journalists Obet Simwanza and Richard Mulonga and Chris Kakunta, a NAIS journalist as well as Fines Muyumba were waylaid by known people suspected to be government operatives just when they were leaving Riflemen for their respective homes.
Ms Siliya said government had the obligation to protect all citizens and that it must rise to call above anyone else and punish the perpetrators of violence regardless of their political affiliation.
She explained that politics must purely be an activity where ideas rather than violence should be exchanged to develop the country and give citizens freedom to freely participate and elect leaders with ideas that would give hope to Zambians.
Ms Siliya stated that it was disheartening and shameful that in the year of the country’s independence jubilee when citizens should be reflecting on how peaceful the country had been in 50 years, some people were still seeing violence as a means of settling differences.
She explained that Zambia was currently faced with critical challenges and that tension had reached frightening levels because of the position of the ceremonial Vice-President Guy Scott who could not act as President in the absence of the Head of State.
She said the tragedy of Dr Scott not being able to act as President was so serious and that the country’s investor confidence had reached its lowest ebb and had severely affected the performance of the economy, which she stated had ultimately affected the livelihood of the poor households.
Ms Siliya said Zambians were wondering why President Michael Sata had failed to appoint a Vice-President who would act as President in his absence and urged that this was a constitutional crisis that must be resolved to stabilize governance.
She said neighbouring countries would be frowning on Zambia because of the culture of violence and that dignitaries that visit Zambia were getting shocked that the country they thought was peaceful was actually habouring hooligans who had turned politics into a bloody battle field.
Ms Siliya said many Zambians supported the existence of the Post Newspaper when it was independent of government because they believed in democracy and good governance.