State of the media report July - Dec 2022

The media plays a critical role in any democratic society, serving as a watchdog for those who wield
power in society politically or economically. It also serves as a platform for diverse voices and
opinions. This is in addition to being an agenda setting mechanism which calls attention to issues
or matters that may not be on the minds of the masses or those in leadership. In Zambia, the media
has been playing these roles but not without pitfalls. Suffice to say, the landscape has undergone
significant changes in recent years, with a surge in number of digital and electronic media. Despite
this, the media in Zambia continues to face challenges, including limited press freedom arising from
an oppressive legal regime and intolerance towards divergent views or criticism. There have been
pronouncements on media law reforms and some did take place in the period under review which
is defamation of the president found in section 69 of the Penal Code. The purpose of this biannual
State of the Media report is to provide an in-depth report of key incidents that had an impact on
media freedom. Through examination of the key phenomena of the Zambian media landscape that
impacted media freedom, this report will call attention to policy makers, civil society and the media
to take action to remove the impediments that impacted media freedom in a particular period. This
report is a departure from the previous State of the Media Reports which would detail too many sub
topics and lacked depth. Based on feedback from the users of the report, MISA Zambia has thus
reformatted the report to be more specific and focused.
This report focused on two topical issues. It has been titled “The Clash between Media Rights and
Political & State Interests”. Major findings of this study indicate that very few of the cadres that
harassed the media/ journalists in the period under review were brought to book. In fact, none of the
cadres were taken to court in the period under review. Further, the findings reveal a lack of understanding of the journalists’ role among police officers on the ground when there are volatile situations or during police raids on suspects. The police saw media presence as an obstruction and also as
being part of the suspects during protests. Suffice to say, media had its fair share of the blame in the
police clash as some of the journalists who were respondents in this study did not have identification
when police demanded it. However, that is not to say that journalists who had their IDs had it easy,
they were equally banded in police vehicles during protests making the difference between those
with IDs and those who did not have the same. Based on study findings, it is evident that journalists,
political party supporters and police officers have a lot to learn from one another and also to learn
tolerance and appreciate each other’s roles. However, there is also need to ensure cadres who violate
the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the media are brought to book and police officers who do so
are equally reported to the Police Complaints Commission.


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