Free Press is cancer to Rupiah

Free Press is cancer to Rupiah
by Mazuba Mwiinga

The likes of us who treat Free Press like an egg on a breakable plate hardly remain mute when issues of Free Press emerge.

Recapturing writer, Moris West’s words in his book Shoes of the Fisherman, reminds me of how The Post newspaper of Zambia dared all the odds of journalism to buttress the principles of Free Press. Some where in his book West says: “It takes so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment or the courage to pay the price”.

On our window of hope, The Post has remained among the most defenders of Free Press in the world.

As such, Zambia's president Rupiah Banda’s iron hand to regulate the media, I am afraid stands on sandy grounds because his motives are not to see a ‘professional’ journalism practice, but rather to stifle the nourished work of Free Press The Post has unwavering been involved in since 1991. And he does all this to satisfy his insatiable appetite for absolute power.

Just as philosopher Edmund Burke warns us that those who have once been intoxicated with power and have derived any emolument from it, even for a year can never willingly abandon it; so is Rupiah trying to cripple the people’s right not just to information but rather to valuable information through his scheme of regulating a profession he has absolutely no idea about its work and principles.

Kenneth Kaunda in his book Letter To My Children, concretizes further such kind of greediness, when he says: “Absolute power enables men to multiply the impact of their personalities…hence it is often the source of pride and arrogance”

Upon this ground, I fully concur with The Post editorial of November 7, 2009 which reads in part: “We hope Rupiah Banda and his friends will learn something from the Committee’s report and start (to) realize that there is no alternative to voluntary self-regulation of the media because the alternative is …dictatorship”.

Rupiah needs to know that this time and age is resistant to old timers who believe in absolute power. Ours is a time which needs leaders who reason with world changes and adopt and adapt that which is modern. It’s a time when we need to learn from mature and tried democracies and fix our tattered leadership that forces its tyrannical power down the chocking gullets of people.

One former US President Thomas Jefferson writing in 1802 despite ill treatment from the Press said: “Where it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hastate a moment to prefer the latter”.

While another former US President, James Madison once wrote that a popular government without popular information or the means to acquiring it; is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.

If this is not evidence enough to show that Free Press is an essential part of a democratic society because it enables people to make informed choices, then I need to burn my fingers so that I stop typing or writing; because from varied opinions and ideas presented by a Free Press, come the truth. And the truth does not always emerge unless someone digs it out.

That’s the reason The Post has today remained a force to reckon with in the promotion of Free Press; and its this price they have been paying – smelling prison walls and court rooms just because the only crime they have been committing is to promote and defend Free Press; an illness of cancer in the minds of president Rupiah Banda and his cohorts.
Copyright: 2009, Mazuba Mwiinga