MISA Zambia congratulates Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa on his recent appointment as Minister of Information and Media in a reshuffle at the Ministry.
In a statement issued by the Chairperson of MISA Zambia, Rev. Fr. Dr. Barnabas Simatende, OMI (PhD), MISA Zambia expresses optimism that Hon. Mweetwa will continue to enhance the Ministry’s role in promoting freedom of expression and media freedom in Zambia. This aligns with President Hakainde Hichilema’s commitment to enabling the media to operate without intimidation.
Media freedom is a crucial component of freedom of expression, and the media serves as the fourth pillar of democracy. A free and independent media is fundamental to any democratic society, facilitating the public’s right to information and fostering public debates on matters of public concern.
MISA Zambia also appeals to the government, through the Ministry of Information and Media and the new minister, Hon. Mweetwa, to expedite the enactment of an access to information law. While the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment), 2016-Act No. 2, emphasizes the provision of timely, accessible, and accurate information to the public, a comprehensive access to information law is still lacking.
The absence of such a law hinders citizens’ participation in public affairs and decision-making processes, including the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
Recognizing access to information as a fundamental right is essential for strengthening democracy, empowering citizens, and enabling the media to fulfill its crucial role as a responsible and reliable source of information.
Furthermore, MISA Zambia calls upon the Ministry, under the leadership of the new minister, to work towards repealing and harmonizing the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Acts. This will enhance the accountability of the National broadcaster for its content to the IBA.
MISA Zambia also appeals to the Ministry to explore mechanisms to reduce the cost of doing business for media houses in the country, including reducing the import costs of media equipment, thereby fostering the growth and development of the media industry in Zambia.
Finally, MISA Zambia urges the new Minister of Information and Media to review outdated media laws that do not align with modern democratic principles. Some of these laws have been in effect for 70 years and pose challenges to the operation of the media in the country.
On Monday, September 25, 2023, President Hichilema terminated the appointment of Hon. Chushi Kasanda as Minister of Information and Media. He also transferred the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Kennedy Kalunga, to the Cabinet office and replaced him with Mr. Thabo Kawana.