Stakeholders come together to celebrate press freedom in Zambia

As this year’s secretariat for the Zambia World Press Freedom Day, PSAf – through the Media Development and ICTs programme’s pilot project, the Pan-African radio Platform – played a key role in bringing together the different stakeholders to ensure that all preparations for the May 3 event went well.

“As PSAf, we were motivated to accept the role of secretariat for this year’s commemorations because freedom of the press remains a key establishment of good governance and durable economic, political, social and cultural development, prosperity and peace in Africa and to the fight against corruption, famine, poverty, violent conflict, disease and lack of education. This is exactly what we believe in, ensuring vulnerable communities drive their own development through robust facilitation of information and communication for development” - notes Gillies C Kasongo, Media Development and ICTs Senior Programme Officer and Head of Programme.

The organisation hosted weekly meetings for the preparations, bringing together representatives from different media associations, unions and media bodies including media support organisations.

Every year, the media throughout the world commemorate May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, Zambia inclusive. This year’s commemorations attracted a lot of interest from different stakeholders.
“The strategy was to demystify and popularise press freedom as something that is not intended to benefit journalists but communities” observes Mr Kasongo. 

May 3 has been an important day for journalists and other stakeholders as it draws attention to the importance of press freedom as a prerequisite of democracy. Of importance, for the Zambian media, this year’s commemoration comes amidst the media’s resolve to embark on a fresh approach of mobilising public and stakeholder support for media policy, regulatory and law reforms.
In Zambia, in recognition of this day, several activities are organized leading to the final day. These activities often include publicity through radio and television programs, press briefings, sports tournament and a stakeholders’ conference. On the actual day, the activities culminate in a march past and sharing solidarity messages as a process of advocacy.
Each annual commemoration has a theme under which it is observed. This theme is also often localised. The 2012 global theme is “New Voices: Media Freedom Helping to Transform Societies”. The Zambian theme is “Access to information (ATI), a prerequisite to a transformed society”. The global theme addresses itself to the issues highlighted in the UNESCO concept paper appended to this concept note while the local one zeroes in on the outstanding matter of creating a favourable environment that promotes access to information by the citizens through the enactment of the Access to Information Law as a way of ensuring good governance.
The 2012 commemorations were held in Lusaka and the provincial centres. In some cases the event was also observed at district level. Organising committees facilitated by the national committee, spearheading the preparations. This year the National Organising Committee to which the provincial and district committees report comprised Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) as secretariat, Press Association of Zambia (PAZA), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Zambia chapter, Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA), Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ), United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Labour (MIBL, specifically the Zambia News and Information Services - ZANIS), the Zambia National Commission for UNESCO, The Human Rights Commission (HRC), The Press Freedom Committee (PFC) of The Post Newspapers, Media Network for Children’s Rights and Development (MNCRD), Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), Catholic Media Services (CMS), Caritas Zambia and other partners form the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) organizing committee, currently being chaired by the ZUJ.
“Clearly, collaboration and partnerships of this nature and magnitude tell a lot of stories about the viability of an organisation and its projects such as the PARP” Kasongo points out.

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