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Media | Human rights

Newspaper launched to advocate Zambia media reform

afrol News, 18 April - Press freedom groups in Zambia have launched a new newspaper to promote a reform of the country's media law and an improved human rights situation. 'The Advocate' newspaper is to become a monthly publication that is to "carry stories on media reforms, matters of good governance, human rights, gender and HIV and AIDS," the owners announced.

This move was announced today by the Zambian chapter of the regional Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zambia). During the launch of 'The Advocate' newspaper last week, MISA-Zambia Chairperson Kellys Kaunda expressed concern at the magnitude of advocacy work needed in the country and has said no one strategy would be sufficient to speed up reforms.

- 'The Advocate' will carry messages and stories on these issues, these are issues that necessitated the formation of MISA in the first place, Mr Kaunda said. He added that it was "clear" that there was a lot of work to be done to bring about the kind of governance needed in Zambia, adding that there was need to expand the number of activities in order to hasten the dawn of good governance.

Mr Kaunda said there were tough hurdles at every turn in the fight for media law reforms, requiring change of strategy hence the addition of the Advocate to these strategies. Zambian journalists have been demanding legal reforms regarding the access to information and right to broadcasting for several years. The press campaign for media law reforms in Zambia actually was initiated already in 1992.

During the launch of 'The Advocate', MISA-Zambia leader Kaunda emphasised that the newspapers would add a new dimension to the struggle by going beyond the membership of MISA, to every corner of the country, reaching more people and therefore enlisting them in the battle for media reforms. "We hope 'The Advocate' will appeal to them and call on them to join our and other's efforts in advancing necessary reforms and matters of good governance in our country," he said.

Mr Kaunda said there were numerous examples around the world to attest to the power of ordinary people to change their respective societies. He cited a number of examples where people in the country had demanded change of government as well as stopped attempts to temper with the constitution.

'The Advocate' newspaper Editor Anthony Mukwita said information was the oxygen that democracy ran on and therefore efforts to give people information should be encouraged. Mr Mukwita encouraged media practitioners to open up each time their rights were violated. He said by doing so, justice would prevail. He warned that 'The Advocate' would "not hesitate to expose oppressors."

Mr Mukwita also said the goal was to see 'The Advocate' grow into a daily newspaper to help serve society better. "We know that coming out once a month is not enough for the magnitude of advocacy work at hand, we hope to be more regular with time, this is just the start," Zambia's newest editor said.

The 10 April launch in Lusaka ended with a display of the first edition of 'The Advocate' for the people in attendance to have a glimpse of it before selling it the following day at the price of three thousand kwacha a copy (approximately US$ 0.66).

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