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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Quiet Plunder?

"We are not against the press, we are just saying 'write the truth about MMD, write the truth about Rupiah Banda, write the truth about Kunda, write the truth about Jeff Kaande', respect the leadership.....The most unfortunate part is that Daily Mail and Times of Zambia if they are here, you are not helping us also even though you are ours.......for the past six months we are just reading 'Rupiah Banda', 'George Kunda must resign', 'Jeff Kaande is giving money to cadres.' Hmmm there's no other news?"
Jeff Kaande boldly claiming that the MMD owns the Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. But isn't this plunder of national resources? To take national property and call it yours, is clearly a form of theft. Yes, formal transfer into MMD hands is not there, but de-facto theft is clearly at play here because to all intents and purposes  Jeff Kaande and his friends clearly believe and forcefully demand that national assets like the Times of Zambia and Daily Mail are property of the MMD. More detail via this Post article

6 comments:

  1. Jeff Kaande boldly claiming that the MMD owns the Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. But isn't this plunder of national resources?

    A lack of separation of the government and the state? Or the separation of the party and the government?

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  2. This is a huge problem in Zambia. The Daily Mail, Times of Zambia and ZNBC do not differentiate between the State and the Government. More often than not; they will lead with headlines like "State to announce floor price for maize", "State gives Zesco $50m for power rehabilitation", "State committed to the education of the girl-child" etc. I hated Civics in junior high but now I understand its relevance!

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  3. Frank,

    I think it is a remnant of the one party state. The same problem exists in Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, etc.

    The solution is a government that is big enough, to limit it's own power, and properly separate state agencies from the political branch and appointments by politicians. And separate the civil service from the politicians, and does the same for parastatals - no more cousins appointed to management positions.

    The NCC made strides in that the majority of participants were in favour of debating procurements in parliament, but they didn't have an overwhelming majority to push it through (I think they needed 67% of the vote). So the people want change, but it is up to the government to do what is right.

    It is a matter of governance.

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  4. MrK,

    "The solution is a government that is big enough, to limit it's own power, and properly separate state agencies from the political branch and appointments by politicians. And separate the civil service from the politicians, and does the same for parastatals - no more cousins appointed to management positions."I think we need to be careful and not underestimate the challenges of maintaining state companies within a clearly defined governance and monitoring framework. It is not simple to keep the party in power or government from interfering constantly.

    Incidentally, the challenges are not the same. For some companies the LURE of control would be too much, regardless of monitoring mechanism or other legal rules.

    Also we need to revist the aprior for state control of certain companies. What is the strategic reason for controlling Daily Mail and Times of Zambia, that can only be delivered through other means?

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  5. Criticism is a necessary evil in politics. The earlier Jeff Kaande and other MMD leaders learn this fact of life, the better for them. Those who are averse to criticism should, therefore, avoid venturing into the political arena; it is as simple as that.

    Nevertheless, what President Rupiah Banda needs is an active press aid who convenes press conferences on a regular basis to explain to the nation the President’s side of any of the stories reported in the private press. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should be abolished. It is one of several government ministries that do not have any meaningful reason to deserve an allocation of tax payers’ money. Each government minister should be expected to inform the public about its operations, and to respond to queries relating to its operations.

    Harassment of private-media editors, reporters and vendors that is currently being perpetrated by MMD cadres is a backward way of dealing with what is perceived to be unfair, insolent or defamatory reporting. President Obama in the U.S. seems to be doing very well with this kind of strategy without interfering with freedom of the press and his fellow citizens’ freedom of expression.

    And, as we draw closer to the 2011 tripartite elections, the government needs to open up the Zambia Daily Mail, Times of Zambia, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), and the Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS) in order to make it possible for all segments of Zambian society to articulate their needs, demands and aspirations through them. It is undemocratic for the "party and its government" (or the PIG) to continue to maintain a monopoly over the use of public media institutions.

    It is high time Zambians gained fair access to such institutions!

    The effective checks and balances we seek to introduce into our system of government are not possible in a political setting where the government is a prominent player in the fourth estate – that is, the media. The role of a free press in the creation of a system of governance in which accountability, transparency, rule of law, and public participation in governmental decision making cannot perhaps be overemphasized. We should not expect our multi-party democracy to function effectively without such a system of governance.

    In the medium term, there will be a need to break up the public media through privatization. There will also be a need for national leaders to spearhead the creation of a "Public Broadcasting Corporation" that will not be controlled by the government and the ruling political party.

    Besides, there is a pressing need for the government to operationalize the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in order for the broadcasting industry to be regulated by an independent body. Moreover, the government should enact the Freedom of Information (FoI) Bill and make it possible for journalists to access information that is vital to both the media and members of the public.

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  6. HK,

    I couldn't agree more.
    We are similar debate on this here .

    The IBA implementation has stalled. I have lost track what has happened to it. At some point it was in court and then it was settled and now is back with who ?

    As for the FOI - I have my reservations on this - see The case for freedom of information ? .

    ReplyDelete

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