The government says it will not impose any unnecessary restrictions and violations on the right to freedom of expression.
Minister of Information and Media, Chushi Kasonde said the new dawn government values freedom of expression as it is an important human right that is essential for our society to be democratic.
The minister said this during the stakeholder’s round table on freedom of expression organized by the bloggers of Zambia with support from the GIZ Enact program.
Ms. Kasanda states that freedom of expression enables the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information and allows members of society to form their own opinions on issues of public importance.
“As we strive to promote, protect and guarantee this right, we have also seen some individuals and groups of individuals overstepping the boundaries and abusing the rights of others under the guise of freedom of expression “, she said.
The minister explained that government has a duty to protect citizens against hate speech but will do so within the accepted norms and standards as prescribed by regional and international norms.
She said government supports citizens who speak out peacefully for themselves and for others and where journalists are reporting truthfully, fairly and objectively on various issues of public discourse.
And responding to a question by Chairperson for the Media Liason Committee, Enock Ngoma as to why government seems to control news content published in public media institutions especially ZNBC, Ms Kasanda explained that government will not meddle in the content by the public media as it wants the media to enjoy the freedom to expression.
With regards to the enactment of the Access to information Bill, the minister stated that the process has already begun with stakeholder consultations being carried on.
The minister also revealed that the Zambia News and Information services (ZANIS) will be given a 24 hour television studio in order to carry out its mandate of informing the public by the end of the year.
She said the public media help in informing the citizens on the various policy pronouncements made by government in order for the citizens to be informed.
Meanwhile Bloggers of Zambia Founder, Richard Mulonga notes that freedom of expression is the cornerstone of democracy.
Mr Mulonga said citizens must exercise the right in a morally acceptable way and not cause harm to other people.
Original story on Lusaka Times