Sweden counsels government on press freedom

The government of Sweden has urged the Zambian government to promote access to information and freedom of the press because the virtues were a prerequisite to citizens making informed opinions, decisions and demanding accountability from their leadership.

Swedish ambassador to Zambia Lena Nordstrom said freedom of expression and of the press were meant to ensure a free exchange of views and information.

Ms Nordstrom said access to and freedom of information was a prerequisite to an open and transparent society in which citizens learnt and created opinion as well as make informed decision and demanded accountability from leaders.

She said Sweden had a long history of respecting and promoting the freedom of expression and the press both of which were included in the Swedish Constitution.

Speaking at the Young Zambian Business Journalist of the year awards at Hotel Intercontinental yesterday, Ms Nordstrom said Sweden’s press freedom law was the world’s oldest dating back to 1766.

She however said the right to express an opinion brought with it responsibility and that it was vital that freedom of expression was not violated or abused.

“Sweden has a long history of respecting and promoting the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press.

Sweden’s press freedom law is the world’s oldest, dating back to 1766. The laws on freedom of expression and of the press seek to ensure a free exchange of views and information. Access to and freedom of information is a prerequisite for an open and transparent society in which citizens learn, create opinion, make  decisions and demand accountability,” Ms Nordstrom said.

Ms Nordstrom said investors needed more information, more analysis as well as more statistics on financial markets, financial instruments, governance and policy issues and regulatory challenges in a country like Zambia.

She said reporting on business and economic related topics could both create and build on trade relations adding that Zambia was one of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world.

Ms Nordstrom said it was easier for other countries across the globe to do business with Zambia than many other countries in Africa.

And Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Joseph Katema said business and economic reporting had remained under-developed and under-appreciated in Zambia among media houses.

Dr Katema said the under-developed business and economic reporting in Zambia could be attributed to lack of specialization and misplaced priorities in media houses. Dr Katema said government was concerned with the media’s appetite for political stories at the expense and exclusion of more urgent and important issues of the economy as well as other developmental prograames and projects that were expected to put food on the table of citizens.

“Day in day out, news headlines on most media platforms are saturated with political rhetoric that adds no value to people’s living standard. This is unfortunate, this is unproductive. This government is not interested in politicking. This government was elected into office with a clear and precise mandate, to deliver development to the people,” Dr Katema said.

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