WHILE the media plays an essential role to, among other fundamentals, educate and inform the general populous, some journalists have of late viewed the Police as ‘enemies’.
Particularly, during this crucial period of campaigns, while Police also carry out their core duties of policing the electoral activities in a manner that would promote peace and security, there had been some frictions as journalists also attempt to cover political figures.
It is unfortunate that in the recent past, journalists were caught up in fracas with either the police or political party cadres during political campaigns creating a grimy atmosphere and working relations between journalists and the men and women in uniform.
We are, however, elated to note that in the run up to the August 12, general elections, the Zambia Police Service has been making deliberate programmes aimed at enhancing a cordial working relations.
This is particularly that Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja has made it clearly that the media and the public should not view the police as enemies, but work together with a common purpose to nurture peace and security during routine livelihood.
One of the mechanisms to explore closer working relations kicked-off during a recent media breakfast interaction and dialogue forum with representatives of media bodies such as the Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) attended by Mr Kanganja.
At that event, the Police reaffirmed the need for journalists to remain professional and avoid propaganda and publication of unverified information which is common during the electoral period.
Mr Kanganja reminded the journalists to remain professional and avoid abuse of social media and other mainstream platforms, hate speech and character assassination because such vices had potential to plunge the country into chaos.
It was at this event that Police outlined activities through a project called Policing of elections funded by the United Nations Development Programme that would include activities such as training of police on the roles of the media in elections and also the media being trained on the roles of police.
Sensitization and awareness meetings between the Police and the media practitioners have since then focused on educating the members of the public on the significant roles that the media play in the communities.
Take for instance, in a quest to cement ties with the media, the Police had been conducting 10 joint provincial dialogue platforms through press clubs and four practical training in safety and security of journalists covering the election.
On Friday last week, a workshop was organised for Times Printpak Zambia Limited and Zambia Daily Mail journalists based in Lusaka and the Copperbelt offices to be trained by police officers on issues of safety and security during the election period and beyond.
Journalists from the two national newspapers were taken through a series of safety issues and conduct to work closely with police in promoting safety during coverage of the forthcoming general elections.
The management of the two newspapers also assured media practitioners under their ambit that adequate measures are in place to protect them from any harassment during the election campaign coverage.