Saturday, October 01, 2011

FoI Bill will be priority - Lubinda

FoI Bill will be priority - Lubinda
By Ernest Chanda
Sat 01 Oct. 2011, 09:00 CAT

GIVEN Lubinda says he will prioritise media liberalisation and enactment of the Freedom of Information Bill. And newly-appointed mines minister Wylbur Simuusa says he will ensure that the windfall tax on the mines is re-introduced.

In an interview after President Michael Sata appointed him information minister yesterday, Lubinda said he would like a free media that would always hold authorities accountable.

"Talking about Freedom of Information laws, that I can assure you. And I am going to discuss with his Honour the Vice-President, and hopefully through him His Excellency the President, that we make the FoI as one of our benchmarks within the first 90 days of the PF government," Lubinda said.

"My priorities are: to liberalise the government-owned media practitioners. I would like the government media practitioners to also feel liberated for them to practice their journalism as professionals.

I am not talking about privatisation, I am talking about journalists being able to write as professionals without them feeling that there's ‘Big Brother' watching over their manuscripts. And I am actually going to encourage the public media to also practice in the same way that the private media is practicing; to be able to raise criticisms against their government."

Lubinda said it was only through objective criticism that the nation's welfare could be improved.

He said both the public and private media played the same role in national development.

"And I would not like to be considered an inconsistent person. I shall do whatever is required to ensure that the press has space in which to perform their very important role to be the fourth estate. And the fourth estate has a function of being a watchdog over other players, over the Executive, over the Legislature and over the Judiciary. And I want the media to be a true mirror of society," said Lubinda.

And Simuusa said he would work towards making Zambians benefit from their mineral wealth.

"We shall create a situation where as Zambians we can manage our mineral resources well for the benefit of every Zambian. Issues of proper accounting for minerals, looking at the way our people have been looked after in the mines.

And obviously to make our people more involved in the mining sector and make it the backbone of our nation's economy. Call it windfall or whatever tax but we will re-look the mining tax and see how we can create a win-win situation, both for us as Zambians and for the foreign investors," said Simuusa.

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