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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Hostages of Rupiah

The Law Association President recently called on the State owned, but MMD controlled, ZNBC to come to grips with its legal obligation regarding political coverage:
“LAZ is of the view that the manner in which ZNBC is airing news and current affairs is in conflict and contrary to the provisions of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation Act chapter 154 of the Laws of Zambia (the ZNBC Act) whose provisions are supposed to regulate the way ZNBC operates. The situation is compounded by the fact that ZNBC currently has no board of directors and continues to operate without a board of directors, contrary to the law....The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has observed with growing concern that the news and coverage of national affairs by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation is unbalanced and mostly skewed towards coverage of opinions and activities of the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) to the exclusions of other stakeholders whose opinions are not given the requisite coverage. In addition, LAZ has also observed that ZNBC has aired libel and slander in its news and current affairs without respect for the right of persons who are the subject of the publication to respond..."
There’s little chance of this being taken seriously by ZNBC, let alone the other two members of this corrupted triplet (Daily Mail and Times of Zambia). Why? The simple truth is that they can’t. They are hostages of incentives, and those incentives point them to Rupiah Banda and MMD. 

Basically, it is difficult for Times of Zambia or Daily Mail to write anything positive about the Patriotic Front not because they hate the Patriotic Front, but it is simply not in their interest for Patrotic Front to win. It is beyond doubt that if PF where to win these elections they have no choice but to fire a large part of the management. At best they would have to sell the papers because these are already failing parastatals (ZNBC would most certainly remain in government hands). 

So we find ourselves in a bizarre situation, in which the more PF is liked by the public, the more anti-PF the public media must become! This is most strange because the public are the shareholders of the public media. They own ZNBC, Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. You would never guess this reading the editorials! What we have therefore are media organisations now against its own people - its owners. Its a mutiny!  This situation is unlikely to change unless there was a fundamental realignment in our political system which moved us to a more pro-people equilibrium. 

In the meantime a  clear message should continue to be sent to the three organisations that they are not regarded as legitimate sources of news. In that sense the PF decision to bar them from the conference as “uncredited” is welcome because further legitimising them as “journalists” would be a mistake when they do not aspire to basic ethics. These men and women are not journalists in a meaningful sense of the word. They are just party cadres who have stumbled on a pay job. Now they find themselves quaking in their boots at the prospect of a new government. They have committed such evil against our people now their corrupt intoxication is about to find them out. For this they fear any change and have no choice but to continue drinking from Rupiah's well of plunder. Hold on to your hats, they are about to get worse..


  1. Cho
    Historically,(From the numerous blog articles and analyses you write) I have found that you are very logical and ordinarily a strong proponent for robust and honest discussion. This contribution above does not live up to those lofty standards that you have set. Your arguments are neither robust nor honest.

    In my view it is very hard to argue coherently and consistently for the need to bar the press from covering a public gathering. A convention for a political party that is aspiring to govern a country qualifies as a public gathering in my eyes. A long delayed ,inaugural convention, qualifies doubly so!. People who do not have your impeccable track record on the defence of freedoms could be forgiven if they argued against the freedom of the media to cover public events

    The fact that one does not see eye to eye with a particular media house/s is not a good reason to bar them from covering you. Freedom of the press does not imply you are free to only choose media houses that are friendly to you. You have to take the smooth with the rough

    I am not at all trying to argue that the public media has been fair and balanced at all. I know that they are biased! But that is not sufficient reason to curtail their freedom to cover and scrutinize the gathering. (As an aside ZNBC, Times and the Daily Mail have been biased since the Kaunda wamuyaya days. Sata , Mulongoti , Guy Scott didn't change the Bias when they were in Government and had opportunity to do so. In fact the chance is that with change in government it will be more of the same!)

    To argue that ZNBC, Times Of Zambia and the Daily Mail are not part of the media, and can therefore be barred is intellectual dishonesty. It a a kind of sophistry that is beneath the Zambian Economist. Let blogs like Zedleaks, ZWD etc peddle such. It is a slippery slope we go down when we start redefining professions and trades to suit our political inclinations.

  2. I could not agree more with Kariba...But hey it just goes to show that Cho is human after all. He is allowed a little lapse in taste and judgement now and then!

    The DM and TOZ are finaicial and ideologically bankrupt instutions who rely on state/ruling party funding to survive.One does not bite the hand that feeds one.I see these instutions as malleable dependent children eager to please their paymasters rather than simply corrupt as cho charges.

    The sad truth is , If the PF comes into power, they will countinue to use(abuse) so called state media (ZNBC,DM TOZ) for their own propaganda purporses...unless there is concerted opposition by stake holders and the general public... and dare I say Intellectuals like cho himself.

  3. Cho has been broken I guess. It was just a matter of time before it happened. Introducing the 'political section' was an excuse to relive held back caderistic steam.

  4. Throwing the baby with the bath water is not an option. Apart from CHO's apparent leaning towards or sympathizing with the PF it really would be nice if the public media could offer decent coverage to all political parties in an election year. Does LAZ have any teeth to carry out their welcome threat? Or is there a way of changing the known M.O of the public media so that the majority of Zambians can get value for their statutory contributions to ZNBC...after all the country has been led by a minority government when one considers the number of voters who did not vote for the ruling party.

  5. Kaiba if you had written this article i bet you would have done an incredible job.
    that said if this article was to be helpful it should have pointed out what should be done to prevent this from happening again. i cannot remember the last time the public media was fair. it has been biased ever since.we prevent this from happening in the future not by firing these people and replacing them with your friends but by fundamently changing the rules.
    1. editorial boards should not by answerable to state house, state house all its instruments should not appoint, promote or fire anyone in the public media,funding of these organisation should not depend on remotely or directly from state house
    2. if the above is not achievable sell these parastatals. after all taxes payer's money is being lost in all parastatals not just the media. this will serve us lots of money.

  6. All, 

    I have noted with interest the arguments set out about which range from accusations of dishonesty to cadre mentality. 

    It has also not been missed that in some of those comments form part of a general pathological trend to  demean this website. A struggle we continue to face since this website was started in 2007. 

    Be as it may, we  exist to foster opinions from different angles. As such we value contrasting views. We learn more from disagreements than we do from 'blind following'. 

    In that vein I encourage you all to continue in your sceptical assessment of issues. Just because we publish something does not make it above reproach. Neither does it make it beyond intellectual critique. On the contrary we espouse the well establish traditional culture of 'amaka yabwingi'.  Or as we 'uwu twala pa nsanka tonaula'. 

    So you are all more than welcome to continue prodding and finding answers to the many intractable issues facing our nation.  Your critical eye is vital as we move forward. 

    But you should also be aware that personal attacks in the manner exhibited above by some will illicit minimal response from me. I have many things to do - I can't therefore respond to every allegation.  

    The best way to get a response is to address the issue at stake - or pose a question. This is the last time I will respond to such. 


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