The greatest challenge is for Zambia's media players to unite behind the Media and Ethics Commission of Zambia, the mode'as body for self-regulation, writes The Times of Zambia in an editorial.
WHEN Zambia discarded the one party political system, opting for a democracy, the country yearned for a litany of reforms. One of the reforms which was critical and immediate was that of the media.
To go along with the wind of change, the media in Zambia took a driving seat to champion for the liberalisation of the Press and other media.
Among the demands, practitioners called for the opening up of airwaves to allow more players, other than the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, to participate in the broadcasting arena.
Lobbyists also pressed for the privatisation of the print media and repealing of a host of anti-media laws. It should be admitted that on its part, the Government moved very fast. The airwaves were liberalised and today there are a myriad of private radio stations.
Though the Government print media could not be privatised, the market was freed to allow for the establishment of more newspapers and other publications.
One positive development has emerged from the above example, Zambia can today be among the top 10 African countries that can boast of a nation where, in terms of the media, there is an effective alternative voice.
That means, the Times of Zambia, the Zambia Daily Mail and ZNBC as Government outlets are not monopolies, they are today pitted against competitors.
Much as so much has been done in media reforms, there is still something missing in terms of consolidating the reforms media practitioners fought vehemently for at the beginning of the political rebirth of the 1990s.
The media practitioners in Zambia need again to be in the driving seat to champion the need for self-regulation.
The Press Association of Zambia, and the Media Institute for Southern Africa (Misa) have already set pace by setting up the Media and Ethics Commission of Zambia (Mecoz).
The greater challenge is for the media players in Zambia to unite and let MECOZ work and succeed by joining the organisation.
The remarks by Fredrich Ebert Stiftung representative Botterwek are not therefore new.
There is need for every media soul in Zambia to be part of Mecoz.
Perhaps, Paza and Misa need to take the mantle again by driving the campaign to persuade media outlets still resisting self-regulation.
Democracy is about compromises, there is neither a victor nor vanquished, as a successful democracy benefits the people
Self-regulation therefore is not only better but would also complete the media reform cycle.
* This editorial was published in the Times of Zambia.