A group of journalists invited from different media groups in Zambia together with top leaders of the Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) converged at Baluba Motel, some 340 kilometres north of capital Lusaka to debate among others issues, ethical questions in the Zambian media, trade union negotiation skills, unifying the profession and building pockets of support in potential areas of recruitment.
A well put together team of resource persons was assembled by the co-ordinator to deliver papers and inspire debate on a number of ethical issues and labour matters affecting the media in general and the ZUJ in particular.
Some of the resource people came from the powerful mine workers’ union while others were former leaders of the ZUJ who are now serving non-unionised positions in the Zambian media.
Zambia is a new democracy founded some 13 years ago following the wind of change that swept across Eastern Europe and broke down the Berlin Wall and the fall of Soviet communism that greatly influenced political dispensation in Zambia.
Zambia was a closed political set up and the media landscape took the communist commandists type. A free press was a rare sight before the reintroduction of plural politics that was largely as a result of sweeping changes across Eastern Europe changing it from the largely authoritarian rule to democratic governance.
The media has been a critically imperative vehicle for democratic change in Zambia. Unfortunately, it has faced challenges too. In this struggle for more freedoms for the people, the Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) working with coalition partners has been in the forefront to campaign democracy, media freedom and rights of workers particularly in the media industry.
It has thus been a blessing that the IFJ Media for Democracy in Africa Project has found its way in Zambia, one of the few countries where the IFJ is piloting this project.
Trade Union Development Workshop in Zambia, Baluba Motel, Luanshya, 18th to 20th September, 2003.