Govt berated for autocratic tendencies

The Zambian government has been berated far resorting to autocratic tendencies as it clamps down on voices of dissent.

According the 2013 African Media Barometer (AMB) report on Zambia recently released in Lusaka, freedom of expression was being continuously curtailed.

Zambia’s gleaming image is slowly being tarnished because of the ruling PF regime which has continued to clamp down on people with divergent views from its administration.

The AMB report is an in-depth analysis of the media landscape in some African countries and Zambia is one of them.

It states that the situation was so because civil society activists, church leaders, opposition politicians and sections of the media had been attacked by PF cadres on various occasions.

One such example highlighted in the report is the attack on the people who had assembled peacefully in the Bible Gospel Outreach Church in Africa (BIGOCA) in Matero to express their views on the removal of food and fuel subsidies.

The report also states that while such attacks are on the increase, the perpetrators are often left scot free for their actions.

Access to online media is limited as the State has clapped down on publications that seem critical of its leadership and because of fear to be victimized journalists who work in mainstream media express themselves more candidly and openly on blog spheres as they do not need to indicate their names.

The report indicates that the ZNBC Amendment Act No 20(2002) was enacted to transform the national broadcaster into an independent and professional entity.

“Political issues continue to dominate the mainstream media and diversity of content in the print media remained limited. Even social, cultural and economic stories are angled to take on a political dimension.

Investigative stories are sporadic and often lack depth and analysis. ZNBC’s TV2 and ZNBC radio present diverse programmes which are more creative, with local content,” read the report.

It was also observed that professional standards were steadily declining and attempts were being made to address this situation by both the Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) and the Media Liaison Committee (MLC).

It further says that great strides had been made in the area of self-regulation which had narrowed the divide between state and privately owned media as they unite to commit to the establishment of the self-regulatory body, the Zambia Media Council (ZAMEC).

The report was launched last week by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.