Access to Information NGO And Media Regulation In Zambia

By Isaac Mwanza

Who are to watch the watchmen? The people themselves.” – James Mill

[Continued from yesterday]

More than ever before, we live in a time when the role of media is high on the public agenda, criticism of the media is in abundance and the spread of fake news is on the rise, not only in Zambia but in most parts of the world where the media is considered to be free or independent. Questions have arisen as to how free or independent the media is, when its output does not differ from what is put out by the government’s own information outlets, such as government spokespersons.

This scenario raises the question of how to make the media accountable through some form of regulation, with the bigger question being, to whom should the media be accountable?


In the mid-to late 2000s, efforts were made to work out mechanisms for media self-regulation by both the Media Ethics Council of Zambia and Zambia Media Ethics Council (ZAMEC). Unfortunately, these attempts at media self-regulation, were unsuccessful.

This had the effect of opening the way to a hybrid co-regulation also referred to as statutory self-regulatory framework which the media has now opposed because of the manner the original draft bill drafted by the media itself has been adulterated by draftspersons at the Ministry of Justice who have provided for criminal sanctions.

It must be understood from the beginning that co-regulation, also referred to as statutory self-regulation, is a framework which allows the media to self-regulate but is backed by statute that binds everyone to such regulation. An example of a statutory self-regulatory framework is that of the legal profession in Zambia through the Law Association of Zambia, birthed by an Act of Parliament.


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