Government has launched newspapers in six local languages. The 36,000 copies of local language newspapers (6000 per language) are Ntanda (in Tonga), Ngoma (in Lunda, Luvale and Kaonde), Tsopano (in Nyanga), Lukanga (in Lenje) while in Lozi it is known as Liseli. The Chibemba version is Imbila.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Mwansa Kapeya says that the first and second issues of the newspapers would be distributed for free, after which they would be sold at “minimal cost” to sustain production and distribution. Government will employ translators and relevant staff to produce the newspapers. He did not explain what news the newspapers would contain.
It is unclear whether these are meant to be weekly or monthly papers. But the idea of newspapers in local languages is a good one. But the obvious question must be asked - why don’t these papers exist already if there’s a market for them? Why has the market failed to provide for these papers? There are no barriers of entry or exit. There are many journalists and business who have attempted to started papers. But none of them are clamouring to launch something like this.
Presumably the reason is that there’s insufficient demand. Which means that these papers may not be sustained without Government subsidies. This of course is an intellectual guess because Government has not published the “Business Case” for these new papers. Why do we do things without setting out a comprehensive business case that be challenged by the public? We are already struggling to fund the Daily Mail and Times of #Zambia. And now we want to establish new papers! We should be selling papers not creating new ones!
The Opposition has again been neatly blinded on this. These papers are most likely going to be used mainly for propaganda ahead of 2016. It is a genius move by PF politically given that they need a solid rural base. It is sad that usually the Opposition fails to read between the lines. It is therefore left to ordinary Zambians have to start exercising critical thinking - we seem not to think beyond what we read or hear. We are too simple minded.
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Chola Mukanga | Economist
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