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‘Complex, contentious,’ media enthusiast says media rights often depend on goodwill of political leadership (video)


Kitwe Press Club spokesperson, Michael Kaluba, has described the media landscape in Zambia as complex and contentious.

In a conversation with Zambia Monitor in Kitwe, Kaluba examines the place of media freedom and freedom of speech.

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He explained that media freedom encompassed the liberties granted to the media under legislation, allowing them to publish, interact with the public and newsmakers, and disseminate information.

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“When discussing media freedoms in Zambia, it’s a contentious issue. In the past, critical media outlets like the Post Newspaper and Prime TV had been shut down under the guise of ‘media freedoms’,” Kaluba stated.

He noted that such actions had led some media houses to tread cautiously in criticizing those in power.

“It’s a delicate balance because media freedoms often depend on the goodwill of those in power,” Kaluba added.

He further argued saying, “If a President is not media-friendly at a given time, media freedoms can be compromised. I advocate for a truly independent media with the freedom to investigate and publish without fear.”

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Despite the enactment of the Access to Information bill, Kaluba sees little change in facilitating access to information due to a lack of operational regulations.

“The ATI law is still in its infancy. The media continues to operate under the influence of those in power, despite the constitution’s guarantee of freedom of expression,” Kaluba said.

However, he observed that even though the constitution guarantees freedom of speech, people are still hesitant to discuss certain sensitive topics such as corruption and procurement procedures.

“These are contentious issues that those in power often wish to avoid,” Kaluba noted.

Kaluba voiced his concerns over the seeming overregulation of electronic media by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act, suggesting that IBA regulations should focus solely on professionalism and ethics rather than content control.

He also highlighted the lack of legal protection for journalists while on duty.

“We have heard of legal clinics for the media, but they are not widely publicized. Moreover, most media houses lack in-house legal counsel, leaving our journalists vulnerable,” he explained.

Finally, Kaluba appealed to organisations like the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and others to connect journalists with legal clinics to ensure the protection they currently lack.

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