Press Freedom, Media Regulation, and Journalists’ Perceptions of their Roles in Society: A Case of Zambia and Ghana

Press Freedom, Media Regulation, and Journalists’ Perceptions of their Roles in Society: A Case of Zambia and Ghana

Twange Kasoma (Radford University, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4197-6.ch007


Given their unparalleled histories and the dichotomous media regulatory frameworks that Zambia and Ghana have, the two countries make for an interesting pedagogical coupling for examining press freedom and the role of the media in African society. That is what this chapter strives to do. Methodologically, a textual analysis of pertinent documents as well as in-depth interviews with journalists was conducted. Some similarities and distinct differences are noted in the two countries’ media regulatory landscapes. For example, both countries continue to lapse where passage of Freedom of Information legislation is concerned. Ghana, however, exhibits more progress than Zambia. The enabling laws Ghana has instituted in the past decade are telling. Ghana’s progress is also evident in how journalists perceive their role in society in comparison to their Zambian counterparts. The former puts more emphasis on the media’s agenda setting role than the latter.
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Political Overview: 1990S To Date

Civil society—comprising non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civic and lay organizations and the labor movement, among others—was the centripetal force that drove the transition to democracy in 1991 in Zambia and 1992 in Ghana. In Zambia, it was the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) that was responsible for securing Frederick Chiluba—a trade unionist by profession—his presidential win (Buhlungu & Adler, 1997; Rakner, 2003). Prior to the elections, ZCTU had mobilized its members to strike as a last resort in demanding better wages and living conditions. In June 1990 the country was engulfed in nationwide riots, which culminated in a short-lived coup a month later. Some media analysts have argued that the riots provided the last straw for the then president Kenneth Kaunda to heed peoples’ wishes for change. Therefore, on December 4, 1990, Article 4 of the 1973 Constitution, which stipulated that United National Independence Party (UNIP) would be the sole legal party in Zambia, was abrogated, paving the way for multiparty politics. Shortly afterwards, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) was registered and the new party held its seminal national convention in February 1991. It was at this convention that Chiluba emerged as MMD’s presidential candidate, eventually beating Kaunda in the November 1991 elections.

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