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APA-Lusaka (Zambia) Journalists in Zambia on Monday rejected suggestions from the authorities to form a statutory body to regulate the media in the country.

Five journalists groups said on Monday that it was wrong for anyone to try and regulate the media in the country because this would stifle freedom of expression.

Speaking on behalf of other media organisations, chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter, Henry Kabwe, said journalists in the country would not accept the idea of being regulated by the state in their work.

Members of Parliament from both the governing party and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) have suggested passing a law to form a regulatory body for the media.

The UPND, who brought up the motion in parliament which was supported by government side, was apparently upset at what they termed biased media coverage during last month’s presidential election.

The UPND alleged that its presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema was sidelined by both the public and private media in preference for other candidates and felt this had occurred because the media organisation enjoyed unlimited freedom.

But MISA said any moves to enact a law to create a statutory body to control media organisations in the country would be an affront to press freedom.

Journalists in the country have instead been pushing for the enactment of the Freedom of Information bill which they say would give the media in the country more access to information.

However, Members of Parliament who have previously been in support of the bill, now say they would only support it after they introduce regulatory laws for the media which would place the media in the country in a compromising position.

Other media organisations that are opposed to the proposed regulation include the Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ), the Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA) the Press Freedom Committee of the Post Newspaper and the Media Council of Zambia.
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