By David Kamuhila

The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) has asked Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) board chairperson Mabel Mungomba to relinquish her post as Board Chair to the only media person in the Board, Sr. Beatrice Mwansa.

MLC chairperson Enock Ngoma said MLC was displeased with the appointment of non-media persons to head one of the sensitive and important media regulatory bodies, IBA as its Board Chair and Vice Chair at this time and age.

Ngoma asked journalists in Zambia to safeguard their profession and interests by promoting the participation of experienced and knowledgeable media personnel in structures created for the media sector.

“No journalist can be allowed to run the Law Association of Zambia or the Marketing or Medical Association or Boards of Engineering Institutions,” said Ngoma. “The appointment of Mabel Mungomba, a non-media person as chair of IBA Board, to preside over life and death matters of media regulation and media sustenance 54 years after Zambia’s independence, is therefore very disappointing and an affront to efforts to professionalise the media industry.”

According to Ngoma, the IBA has a 9-member board constituting of only one board, Sr. Beatrice Mwansa with some media training and background. The rest excluding the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information, Amos Malupenga,who is the Board by default of being PS, have no professional and academic media background and experience. Other board members with no media experience or knowledge include Board Vice Chair Chalimba Phiri, Claire Limbwambwa. Margaret Siwale, Enita Hamatumbika and Clement Ng’andu.

“For a long time, the media in Zambia has noted with regret the appointment of clueless individuals to preside over matters of media professionalism and ethical conduct of the media sector, a sector they have no academic or professional experience over.  Non-media personnel from diverse professions have been appointed into media sensitive positions of authority and their reigns have not been beneficial to the growth and improvement of the media industry for a long time,” he said.

According to the IBA Act 17 of 2002 with various amendments, the IBAthrough its Board is responsible for regulating the broadcast industry in Zambia by ensuring the promotion of a pluralistic and diverse broadcasting industry. The functions of the IBA include among others, to grant, to renew, to suspend and cancel radio and television license. The IBA is mandated to set professional media and ethical standards to be followed by all radio and TV stations as well as monitor licence to ensure that there are compliant.

Ngoma cited the closure of Prime Television as one of the examples of IBA Board decisions that contributed to  the killing and stifling of the media sector.

“We would like to thank the President, Edgar Lungu, for appointing, Ms. Dora Siliya, a journalist, and Mr. Amos Malupenga, a journalist, as Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, and Permanent Secretary respectively,” he said. “However, we note with regret that the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services under two former journalists continues to appoint non-media professionals to key media related boards, structures and institutions including those that are controlled by the government such as IBA, ZANIS among others.”

He reminded Information and Broadcasting minister Dora Siliya of her being on record of emphasizing the fact that journalism is a profession that should have standards.

“If journalism is a profession, why would she delegate to have the conduct of its professionals judged by clueless and non- media professionals?” asked Ngoma. “Zambia at 55 years after independence has over 400 non-political and eminent Zambians who are experienced and well trained in various areas of media practice, media finance and journalism.”

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