n 2014, Zambia’s media sector continued to witness a gap
between the liberal promises
made by the ruling Patriotic
Front (PF) government and the
dawning reality of the constraints of the media’s working
and policy environment.

While the party promised in
2011 to liberalise the airwaves and allow radio and television stations to
broadcast countrywide, then Republican President Michael Chilufya Sata
dressed-down Ministry of Information
Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba for issuing nationwide broadcast
licenses to two privately owned radio
stations, Q FM and Radio Phoenix. The
decision was immediately reversed and
the Permanent secretary later retired.
Major events of the year included the
secrecy surrounding the president’s
health and his subsequent death in the
later part of the year, despite continued
assurances from senior cabinet and government officials of his good health. This
development brought into question the
need to strike a balance between giving
out important information in the public
interest whilst remaining sensitive to
national security. There had also been
threats of arrest and cancellation of licenses of any media outlet discussing
the President’s alleged ill health.
Additionally, the year saw a vicious
clampdown on online media with some
websites remaining inaccessible for
extended periods while continuing to
operate anonymously. Those associated
with the online sites (directly or indirectly) were arrested and prosecuted on
an assortment of charges.
Generally, there was continued polarisation of the media with occasional outbursts between two of the prominent

daily newspapers in their editorials.
The legal environment remained much
the same save the successful annulment
of the law on publication of false news
with intent to cause fear and alarm to
the public, in a lengthy case in which
the state dragged to court a daily newspaper editor and a civil society activist.
In the midst of the controversy surrounding the constitution making process, some headway was made as the
country’s newly appointed Justice Minister released the final draft constitution, which was earlier censored and
withdrawn. Fortunately, the final draft
had favourable legislation for the media
such as an explicit guarantee of media
freedom, access to information and
freedom of expression among others.

Government commits to
improving media freedom
Despite the many challenges, government showed some commitment towards the operationalisation of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA)
by appointing the Board and Director
General. However, concerns were still
raised on the authority’s independence,
as it was directly appointed by the Minister of Information.
Also, government embarked on recapitalisation of the public media with a
view to making them self-sustainable
and profitable.

Government continues to stall
tabling of access to information
Very little change was observed under
efforts towards the enactment of the

So This is Democracy? 2014


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