By Scoop Reporter
THERE must be tolerance to divergent views from political players and those in Government to safeguard the work of journalists as the country prepares to host the 2021 general elections, the Lusaka Press Club has said.
Club interim chairperson Joy Chula Sata says there is need for the protection of journalists before, during and after the 2021 elections.
“As the country prepares to host the 2021 general elections, we appeal for tolerance to divergent views especially from political players and those in government to safeguard the work of journalists. We appeal for protection of journalists before, during and after the 2021 elections.
“Freedom of expression through various media before, during and after elections will always be a thorny issue as information disseminated is neither verified nor factual and sources of information will always prefer to be anonymous especially among political players,” Ms. Sata said.
She has also appealed to the media to avoid conflicts of interest, whether real or perceived, as they disseminate information to the general public and remain relevant to the cause of promoting media freedom in Zambia.
She says journalists are expected to report issues on every aspect of life that impact on society to avoid giving regulators leeway to clamp down on media.
“Journalists should not accept gifts, favours, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other activities that may compromise integrity, impartiality or dent their credibility.
“Journalists and the Media fraternity in Zambia should remember that the Electoral Code of Conduct is there to protect them as long as personnel are professional in the conduct of their duties,” she said.
She says according to the Freedom House, a United States based organisation that assesses media freedom worldwide, Zambia is not free according to the 2018 Freedom of the Press Report.
She says from 199 countries and territories assessed globally, 31 percent are free while 36 percent are partly free and 33 percent are not free.
She also urged the Government to enact the Media Ethics Bill to help regulate the media in Zambia adding that the push for this Bill arises from the fact that the media organisations and the media in general were party to the drafting of the Bill.
“It will therefore be appropriate that we see the Bill enacted as soon as Parliament resumes sitting to provide a basis for self- regulation of the media in Zambia,” she said.