The Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) has observed that the Zambian laws does not protect the media despite talking of media freedom.
PAZA President Andrew Sakala says most articles in the Zambian constitution are crafted in a way that they directly suffocates media freedom which he said needs to be changed if true media freedom is to be guaranteed.
Mr. Sakala cited the law related to contempt of court saying in most cases media houses publish articles on court cases after facts have been presented as well as expressing mere opinions.
He said such laws work against democracy especially that the media is one of the key stakeholder and has a big role in a democratic dispensation.
He said all the laws found in the penal code which do not guarantee media freedom where left by colonialists in the beginning of the last century and was meant to stifle Africans.
“And successive governments have only made a few changes especially to the public order Act, but most of it still exists despite them not guaranteeing media freedom,” said Mr. Sakala.
Mr. Sakala further cited the law on the official Secrets Act which he said is so vague as it does not set out clear standards or terms of what constitutes an official secret.
He said the Act makes democracy meaningless because it prohibits meaningful participation of citizens who are supposed to know what their government is doing in their name.
He further cited the law on prohibited publications as another law that works against media freedom saying it prohibits even citizens to buy any publication that has been prohibited.
He said the said law gives the Republican President absolute discretion powers to ban any publication he feels shouldn’t have been published.
“And it is such laws that leads to journalists to clash with the police because to a journalist, what has been published is news worth,” he said.
He also mentioned the lack of security where journalists suffer physical attacks in the presence of the Zambia police.
He said there has been quite a good number of incidences especially at political gatherings where journalists are physically manhandled by political cadres while police officees are watching.
“And when such reports are made, police will only say ‘we are investigating the matter’ which usually goes on and on without any positive results,” he said.
Mr. Sakala was speaking during a presentation during the police and media dialogue meeting in Solwezi.
The meeting drew journalists and police officers from three districts namely Solwezi, Mushindamo and Ikelengi respectively.