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MEDIA NATIONAL STAKEHOLDERS CONFERENCE

Remarks
by
Ms. Viola Morgan
UNDP Country Director

Taj Pamodzi Hotel


Lusaka
th
12 April 2010
Honourable Mr. Ronnie Shikapwasha, Minister of Information and
Broadcasting Services,

Members of the national and community based media

Distinguished invited national and international guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning,

I feel greatly honoured and privileged to represent the United Nations


Development Programme (UNDP) at this national stakeholders’ conference.
This conference is particularly important for two reasons. First, it is a
culmination of thorough national consultations and collection of
experiences from the region on improving quality of the media and
reporting in Zambia and second, it seeks to build consensus on a code of
ethics for media professionals practising in Zambia and the constitution for
the Zambia Media Council.

Hon Minister, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the


Government of the Republic of Zambia and Media Liaison Committee for
reaching an early agreement on practical steps for establishing a
framework for media regulation in Zambia and for taking the necessary
action quickly. We at UNDP feel honoured to have supported some of the
consultative processes including this workshop. Your presence here today
symbolizes the importance of this meeting and augurs well for our continued
close collaboration. Hon Minister, UNDP and indeed the UN family consider
the media to be an important partner in promoting development and
achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Media organisations have a
unique position in the development setting of the development agenda
because they are information providers and promoters of civic
participation. They are vital in sharing lessons and experiences we bring
through our global networks to Zambia and from Zambia to the rest of the
world, hence we see the media as important development partners.

It is indeed pleasing to see so many of the community media from all parts
of the country represented at this workshop. From our experience in UNDP,
these groups form part of the frontline in terms of raising important
development issues affecting communities throughout this vast country.

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UNDP in collaboration with national institutions such as the Human Rights
Commission has already identified community radio stations for example, as
key partners for dissemination of vital developmental information and raising
awareness of issues such as human rights and climate change and
prevention of HIV/AIDS.

Part of UNDP’s support to the community radio stations has been targeted
at enhancing collaboration between the Human Rights Commission, in the
development of human rights based programming on community radio
stations. We hope that the programme would enable voices from the
remotest of communities to be heard, in the true sense of governance that
is inclusive and participatory and will influence and impact on national
agenda setting.

Just last week members of the community radio stations in Eastern Province
undertook field visits to remote communities to gather information on their
development and human rights interests and concerns. Similar activities
have organised in Southern and Western Provinces.

Hon Minister, we are looking forward to increased collaboration with the


media on capacity development on other issues such as climate change
and coverage of the forthcoming elections. The occasion of the World Press
Freedom Day next month presents an excellent opportunity for such
interaction. UNDP will be pleased to support such events and indeed any
further suggestions will jointly advance capacity enhancement of the media
in dissemination of development information.

Zambia has since independence enjoyed peace and stability and the
media has a role in ensuring that these conditions prevail. Therefore this
media stakeholders’ conference could not have come at a better time
given the role that media organisations play in shaping public perceptions
and mindset. For example, the media is expected to positively contribute
toward a peaceful, transparent and credible election next year and vibrant
debate on the draft national constitution and sixth national development
plan. It is therefore imperative that the media is equipped and operates in
an environment that is conducive to provision of accurate and reliable
information to the public.

In view of the foregoing, UNDP in collaboration with other cooperating


partners will, through the electoral cycle management project, support the

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media to develop its capacity to ensure that the media plays a key role in
promoting credible election. This dove tails well with some of the issues
covered in the ZAMEC draft code of Ethics for media professionals, for
example, truthful, accurate and fair reporting, and, equal opportunity for
access and treatment of all political parties, to name a few. We hope similar
approaches will be adopted for emerging issues such as gender and
climate change.

Hon Minister, I would like to conclude by congratulating the drafting teams


for preparing comprehensive and well researched documents to be
discussed over the next two days. We are particularly pleased to note that
issues relating to balance, impartiality, privacy and ethical reporting are
addressed comprehensively throughout the code of ethics. It is hoped that
the adoption of this code will increase public confidence in the media and
therefore heighten the role they can play in communicating for
development. We are confident that this conference will contribute to the
media’s ability to take up the mantle and assume their important role within
the development agenda for the benefit of Zambia and its people.

Thank you.