INFORMATION minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha has said Zambia's President Rupiah Banda has performed exceedingly well on the media despite the insults he has been receiving from The Post, writes Patson Chilemba in The Post.

Asked by interviewer Frank Mutubila on Radio Phoenix’s Let the People Talk programme on Tuesday on how President Banda and his government had performed in relation with the media as well as threats to statutory regulate the media mainly because of independent media houses like The Post who have been highly critical of the government, and why government could not use the existing laws if the stories that were written by The Post were libelous, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said President Banda had not been discouraged by The Post insults.

“Some of it, for example – you know it was written, ‘President Banda takes his children to Zimbabwe’, and there was not a child that was taken. Even when Mr. special assistant to the President for press and public relations Dickson Jere wrote to The Post to say ‘please correct your story, President Banda did not take his children to Zimbabwe when he visited Zimbabwe,” Lt Gen Shikapwasha said.

“They didn’t want to publish that. Many other cases like that have gone through with The Post, no balanced reporting whatsoever. As long as it is Banda, it must be bad, it must be reflected. So he has done very well. I want to tell you that he has gone ahead to protect the media industry, he’s expanding, more newspapers are coming online, more radio stations are coming, more television stations are coming. But in all this media industry that is growing, there needs to be guidance or some form of regulations that are going to help.”

He said in Botswana there is the media practitioners Act while Kenya has also regulated the media.

“In Seychelles, they are doing that. In many countries this is available, and we as government, we have been sitting down with the media industry, the heads of the media. Mr. Kabwe and his colleagues in MISA are discussing these, and they feel themselves that they must go ahead and carry out a self regulatory mechanism that they are going to put in place,” Lt Gen Shikapwasha said.

He said the government had been waiting for the media to come up with a regulatory mechanism.

“We need to protect everybody else in the country by some form of regulatory measure that is going to help the media industry. Nine years along the line, they haven’t produced that. We have come to a position where we said ‘okay, how long are you going to take?’ They said we can do it within three months. So we said ‘okay, do it within six months. So we agreed in that meeting that the Vice-President George Kunda chaired,” Lt Gen Shikapwasha said.

We can’t have chaos in the media industry because the media industry is so important that it determines the opinions of the people. And if people today, everybody is talking about Rupiah Banda being bad whilst the President is doing very well, it does not help the country. The bad reporting, I want to tell you I had a four hours Diaspora radio interview with the Diaspora.One of the things every person in the Diaspora spoke about was ‘why is this bad reporting by The Post?’” Lt Gen Shikapwasha said.

“It is injuring the country outside Zambia, and it’s not bringing investment into Zambia. Everybody spoke about it. So it is necessary that we look at ourselves and examine ourselves.”

Asked by Mutubila if the government was also concerned on how public media houses handled stories which people said were biased towards the government, Lt Gen Shikapwasha said there was some re-organisation going on at the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Post's website.