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Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It is unjustifiable to reject Ministry of Information vote

By The Daily Times - 26 August 2008 - 11:24:29

The rejection of a vote for the Ministry of Information and Civic
Education by members of Parliament (MPs) Monday is unwarranted and

The MPs wanted just to get even with Minister of Information Patricia
Kaliati, whom they have failed to admonish for her outspoken approach
to the opposition.

This was an unfortunate thing for the MPs to do as they only disturbed
a somewhat smooth flow of Committee of Supply stage of the budget

For starters, this is not the first time that MPs have rejected the vote, for reasons that are more personal than objective.

It is a known fact that Kaliati, outspoken as she is, has crossed paths
with her opposition opponents. During last budget sitting, the
opposition rejected her ministry’s vote purely because they wanted to
punish her and press her to apologise over some mudslinging she was
involved in at a public function.

In our view, the rejection of her ministry’s vote yesterday was a
repeat of the emotional and hateful approach towards her that we all
witnessed during the 2007/08 budget debate.

The minister, for goodness sake, is a mere political head of her
institution, the Ministry of Information. She does not own it like a
farm. The President, in exercise of his powers, can choose to reshuffle
cabinet and shift her to another government portfolio, or fire her from
the cabinet altogether. It, therefore, wouldn’t make sense to reject
the vote for the ministry because that entails victimising innocent
staff at the ministry, whose salaries are factored into the vote, which
the MPs mercilessly rejected yesterday.

Again, linking her ministry to state media houses, MBC and TVM, is
another argument that does not hold water at all. The MPs do not solve
the problem of biased coverage of politics by the two institutions by
rejecting the Ministry of Information’s vote. After all, when the House
last year approved a nominal allocation of K1 each for the two
institutions, which in essence was a rejection of their votes, this
only boomeranged on the MPs themselves as the two institutions went on
to launch hard-hitting programmes namely Makiyolobasi, Mizwanya and
Mpungwepungwe Pandale.

In our view, the solution, like we have always advocated, is for the
MPs, especially the opposition MPs, to use their numerical strength in
the House to change the legal framework under which the two
institutions operate.

The MPs could move a motion in the House to make the media houses truly
independent, by for instance, changing the law that empowers the
President to appoint the boards for the two institutions.

However, our honourable MPs are hypocritical and they let MBC and TVM
operate the way they do so that one day when they get into government,
they could equally abuse the media outlets in the manner in which the
incumbent government is or previous ones were doing.

Why is it that for 10 years, the UDF did not bother to change MBC and
TVM so that they cover all parties in a balanced, fair and impartial
manner? Why did it have to take them to land in the opposition for them
to realise that MBC and TVM cover politics unprofessionally?

Certainly, it could have appeared wise of UDF if they had corrected
things when they were in power than to assume a holier than thou
attitude today.

All in all, we condemn the MPs for rejecting the vote for the Ministry
of Information. It was purely personal. We implore them to look at the
vote soberly and realise that Kaliati is not the Ministry of
Information, and conversely, the ministry is not Kaliati. Let them pass
the ministry’s vote.


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