Chief Government spokesperson Dora Siliya stated in a statement on the outcome of the 17th Cabinet Meeting called by President Edgar Lungu on Wednesday that the approval came as a result of complaints by some stakeholders that the habit of allowing anyone to practice journalism cannot continue to go unchallenged.
Ms Siliya, who is also information and broadcasting services minister, said the establishment of the Zambia Council for Journalists will provide a legal framework for the journalism profession to thrive.
“Cabinet further approved in principle, to the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to provide for the establishment of a self-regulatory professional body for journalists,” she said.
“There is a great desire among the stakeholders to save the credibility of the media. The establishment of the Zambia Council for Journalists will provide a legal framework for the journalism profession to thrive making it more effective and efficient. Journalists will have confidence in their work considering that they are protected and further, it will protect the profession and ensure that there is professional reporting especially with the advent of social media. The legislation will provide for soberness and sanity by the journalists.”
The minister said Cabinet also approved the Media Development Policy in order to deal with the challenges that are constraining the development of the media industry in Zambia.
Siliya said the media industry has grown significantly and continues to do so as a result of liberalisation.
“With this growth, comes attendant challenges that must be tackled through a comprehensive Policy framework. Challenges such as inadequate regulation, inadequate skills among media practitioners as well as inadequate media development-related infrastructure. It has become necessary to ensure a well-coordinated approach in the sector. Further, with the advent of the electronic media, the need for appropriate regulation and capacity building is cardinal for the growth of the sector,” she said.
“Cabinet also approved the National Information Communication Policy and its Implementation Plan. The Policy aims at among other things, to address the challenges that Government is currently facing as regards intra-government communication and communication with the public in order to enhance information flow from Government to the members of the general public and from the members of the general public to the Government. The Policy also addresses the irresponsible use of social media.”
Meanwhile, the minister said Cabinet approved in principle, the introduction of a Bill in Parliament in order to establish the Professional Film Makers Guild of Zambia that will organise and govern the activities of actors and film makers and introduce mechanisms that will monitor quality of films.
Siliya said the film industry not only provided a means for cultural preservation, but also had the potential to significantly contribute to national development.
The minister said it was for this reason that Cabinet approved the National Film Policy on 19th May, 2017 adding that the proposed piece of legislation is, therefore, expected to provide a platform which will organise and govern the activities of actors and film makers as well as monitoring the quality of films.
Siliya further disclosed that Cabinet also approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Teaching Profession Act Number 5 of 2013.
“To wind up debate for the day, Cabinet approved in principle, the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Teaching Profession Act Number 5 of 2013 in order to redefine the mandates, roles and functions of the Council and the Standards, Evaluation and Assessment Section of the Ministry of General Education and further, harmonize them so as to enhance cost effectiveness, efficiency, and quality in the education service delivery,” she said.