It was generally agreed that many Zambian journalists were lacking in the area of professional conduct and ethics and therefore there was great and urgent need for the ZUJ to take a leading role in campaigning for ethical conduct and professionalism.
It was noted that as the first media group in Zambia to ascribe to internationally-accepted ethics and code of conduct under the IFJ to which the union is affiliated, the ZUJ must co-ordinate with other media watch groups, the Press Association of Zambia (Paza) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Zambia) which have established the Media Ethics and Complaints Commission of Zambia (Mecoz).
It was overwhelmingly noted in a frank and open debate of self-criticism that ZUJ needed to do more for the case of promoting ethical conduct.
A strong resolution, as can be seen from the workshop declaration, was passed to the effect that the forthcoming ZUJ General Congress, expected later this year should adopt a Working Code of Conduct and Ethics that should guide the profession.
Additionally, the ZUJ leadership was asked to buy into the initiative to establish Mecoz whose structures and constitution have already been completed and was only awaiting finances to recruit essential staff and set up a board of directors to govern it.
IFJ Projects Officer for Africa, Bertrand Ginet who was present throughout the workshop, drew comparisons with such similar initiatives that were at a more advanced stage in Tanzania and promised to assist with documentation and other areas of capacity building in this respect.
It was strongly noted that this ethical watchdog would be a non-legal self-regulatory body. In this regard journalists attending the workshop were drawn to the attention that a self-regulatory body that did not rely on the force of law required high standards of moral consciousness and integrity for it to work.
Ethics cannot be enforced by the weight of the law and so delegates were prodded to undertake to understand that it is an inner conscious that should tell them dos and don’ts in the practice of the journalism profession.
Trade Union Development Workshop in Zambia, Baluba Motel, Luanshya, 18th to 20th September, 2003.