'De-mining' politics, religion, and news
IN DECEMBER 1991, Zambian President Frederick Chiluba officially declared Zambia to be a "Christian nation", but many church leaders considered the declaration to be meaningless.
At the very least, such a declaration suggests that religion is welcome in Zambia’s public square and that journalists are free to report on it. But like other African nations, the reality of reporting in Zambia is complex and at times inhospitable to the free creation of information.
All this week in Lusaka, Zambia, The Media Project is sponsoring a gathering of 30 journalists and speakers to discuss daily challenges to Zambian reporters, such as limited access to government information, lack of legal protections for media rights, as well as examples of harassment.
Amos Malupenga, Managing Editor of The Post, one of Zambia’s leading private newspapers, will launch the dialog speaking on the topic of “Press Freedom in Zambia.” Malupenga is a sought-after writer and speaker on questions of press freedom.
The National Chairman of the Association of Zambian Diocesan Clergy, Fr. Cletus Mwiila will tackle the urgent issue of “Religion and Politics in Zambia, a Minefield?” Friction between churches and the state, as well as the role of the church in governance, are key issues here. The relationship between the church and the media is also tense.
Censorship and self-censorship are constant threats to reliable information in Zambia, as is the relationship of reporters to their sources. Dr. Isaac Phiri, Senior Lecturer at the University of Zambia Department of Mass Communication will address these and other issues in his talk “Media Setting the Agenda for Public Debate in Zambia.”
The Media Project will post updates and stories from the conference once it is complete.