BROADCASTING AND DEVELOPMENT: THE CASE OF ZAMBIA
Master of Arts (M.A.) Journalism
University of Wales
BROADCASTING AND DEVELOPMENT: THE CASE OF ZAMBIA
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of Master of Arts (Journalism Studies) at
the University of Wales, Cardiff.
To my wife AWONGO, my son MWILA and my daughter
CHIMWEMWE, with deepest love and memory
I declare that this dissertation is the result of my independent investigation and that due reference is made where necessary to the work of other researchers as acknowledged in the notes, references and appendices.
I further declare that this work has not already been accepted in substance for any degree, and is not concurrently submitted in candidature for any degree.
1ST September 1994
(Supervisor) GEOFF MUNGHAM
Geoff Mungham, Director of Research at the Centre for Journalism and my academic Supervisor is gratefully acknowledged for his unflagging guidance and great patience in structuring my research and pointing me in the right direction at all stages of this project.
Mr. Kevin Williams, lecturer at the Centre also deserves my thanks for his sustained encouragement which inspired me to study hard and to be confident enough to complete this work.
I also wish to express my appreciation to the former Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Director-General, Dr. Manasseh Phiri, Dr. Graham Mytton, Mr. Peter Fraenkel and Mr. Michael Kittermaster for their wonderful assistance. The late Mann Sichalwe, former Director of the Zambia Institute of Mass Communications (ZAMCOM), the late Mark Mbewe, former Director of the Zambia National Archives are also remembered for their generous help and encouragement before my course of study.
Finally, my special gratitude to my wife, Awongo, who visited me three times during my academic year at the University of Wales. Without her understanding and encouragement, I could not have worked and studied wherever I went. And without her support and love, I could not have overcome all the difficulties to achieve whatever I attempted.
This dissertation aims to study development and broadcasting in Zambia, to draw conclusions as to the present situation of broadcasting and the direction it should move in future.
The study of the development of broadcasting in Zambia and its current structure are outlined together with details of its structure, policy and the constraints upon it.
The findings of this study show that broadcasting, radio in particular, has become the dominant news source for the nation, an effective instrument of propaganda for the government and a powerful influence in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the Zambian people.
Finally, some suggestions are put forward for ways of improving the content and presentation of programmes on both radio and television and for reform of the current media system in Zambia.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
MAP OF ZAMBIA vi
CHAPTER ONE 4
MASS MEDIA, COMMUNICATION AND DEVELOPMENT 4
ELECTRONIC MEDIA: ZAMBIA 10
IMPACT OF RADIO 20
CHAPTER TWO 24
HISTORICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND 24
COLONIAL RULE 26
POPULATION AND PEOPLE 31
CROWN COLONY POLITICS 34
THE INFLUENCE OF THE BBC EMPIRE SERVICE 39
ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF LOCAL COLONIAL
CHAPTER THREE 61
THE NORTHERN RHODESIA INFORMATION 61
THE FIRST RADIO STATION 70
CABS AND THE SAUCEPAN SPECIAL 77
CHAPTER FOUR 90
ZNBC STRUCTURE AND POLICY OBJECTIVES 90
POLITICAL INTERFERENCE 93
CURRENT FINANCIAL SITUATION 102
RADIO AUDIENCE AND RESEARCH 106
POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS 114
APPENDIX I 122
APPENDIX II 123
In 1982, the government of Zambia embarked upon a programme to revitalize the mass media, when the then President, Kenneth Kaunda inaugurated the new Mass Media Complex in Lusaka. In his address, Kaunda emphasized:
‘Every one of us has a right to speak and a right to be heard. What everybody else is saying and doing affects everybody else’s life struggle and personal opportunities…. This Complex we are now commissioning is cardinal instrument in this vital process of rebuilding our personal lives….. ‘(Kaunda, K, 1982.)
The government had committed itself to the promise that development depends upon adequate communication processes and a two way flow of information. However, the completion of the Mass Media Complex, while providing a level of production facilities for radio and television which were among the best in Africa, only began a longer term process which would ultimately allow information to pass freely throughout the country, especially into the heart of its rural communities.
What was achieved initially primarily benefited urban audiences and has been constrained by problems of manpower, the replacement of equipment and equipment spares, created by inadequate funding and other problems arising from the country’s general economic difficulties.
This dissertation is made up of four chapters as follows:
CHAPTER ONE: analyses the role of the Mass Media, Communication and Development in the Developing Countries. The study attempts to give a general overview of the mass media and communication through a literature review.
CHAPTER TWO: traces and summarizes the political background of Zambia and examines the British government’s policy on Colonial Broadcasting before the Second World War. The role played by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in its Empire Service is also discussed.
CHAPTER ___THREE: is devoted to discussing the development of radio in Northern Rhodesia after the Second World War and how the Colonial Government used the medium to ‘socialize’ the Africans. The development of other media – television and newspapers, has only been referred to in passing and could be the subject of another study.
CHAPTER FOUR: which concludes the dissertation assesses the performance of Radio in relation to development with some suggested policy recommendations for both the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and the government.
Source materials for this study are from textbooks, newspapers, journals, magazines, government reports and interviews with people connected with the Northern Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (NRBC), Zambia Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS) and the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) as well as my personal experience as a broadcast journalist for fifteen years.
MASS MEDIA, COMMUNICATION AND DEVELOPMENT
‘Development’ is usually referred to by quantifiable indicators such as Gross National Product (GNP) and per capita income in traditional Social Science literature.
But now instead of becoming a synonym for economic growth, development is seen more in rounded terms – which brings into consideration questions of distributive justice, human fulfilment and cultural identity. (Dissanayeke, W, 1985, p21).
In the past, the mass media, especially radio, were penetrating further into the mass audience of developing countries and seemed to have a considerable potential for helping such nations to reach development goals.
Communication scholars were being attracted to study development problems in education, agriculture, politics and family planning.
Thus literacy, ideological orientation and political participation constituted real issues for most developing countries espousing a policy of media use for national development.
One of Africa’s leading critics and theorists of the mass media, Cehn Chimutengwende (1992) notes:
‘The mass media have long been
recognized in developing countries
as essential auxiliary means of
modern economic construction, social
and cultural development. They are
important means of social control and
social process. Their ideological and
socialization functions are continually being defined and perfected in developing countries as one of the indispensable factors in the mobilization of general population for programmes of national development. ‘(Chimutengwende, quoted in Ziegler and Asante, 1992, p41)
Chimutengwende recognizes the importance developing countries place on the media. He sees the necessity for planned and guided development and believes that this is mot consonant to the present conditions of those nations.
In the early communication research tradition led by Everett Rogers, Wilbur Schramm and Daniel Lerner during the 1960s, modern communication media were idealized as powerful instruments for achieving the announced goals of socio-economic modernization, national integration and cultural expression.
Rogers, particularly, focused attention on development and its relationship to communication. Rogers has insisted:
‘The newer conceptions of development imply a different and generally, wider role for communication. (Rogers, 1976, p8)
In many development efforts where information has been used, communication activities alone have been relied on to provide the impetus for change. Skillful communication, for instance, can change peasants’ perceptions of their situation, but it alone cannot change the situation very much.
‘It can help a backward farmer to see opportunities he ignores, but if opportunities do not exist, information will not create them.’ (Brown and Kearl, 1967, p25)
In the 1950s and 1960s, there was much optimism and high hopes for the role that mass communication might play in fostering development in developing countries. Hedebro, G, (1980) sums up the following major functions that communication was supposed to fulfill:
- teach new skills from literacy to agriculture and hygiene.
- act as multipliers of resources of knowledge.
- raise levels of aspirations which in turn would act as incentives for action.
- make people more prone to participate in decision-making.
- facilitate the planning and implementation of development programmes that will correspond to the needs of the population.
- make economic, social and political development a self-perpetuating process.
- create a sense of nationhood.
These various points express the firm belief of the time that communication could contribute in an important way to the striving for improved living conditions.
Some authors even used terms as ‘magic multipliers’ in describing the media and what they could do in the development process. (Mytton, 1983, p27)
Against this background, communication was seen as an indispensable tool for making the people of under-developed societies more modern.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the dominant paradigm emphasized the need for rapid economic growth by means of industrialization. Heavy emphasis was placed on capital intensive technology and centralized planning.
The communication scholars who were in favour of this approach, such as Scramm (1963-1964), Lerner (1958), Pye (1963) and Pool (1963) had profound influence through their writings in winning recognition for an approach which argued that the only way in which less developed countries could progress was by emulating the industrially advanced countries and taking the same historical path they had travelled. (Beltran, S, 1976).
The dominant paradigm also envisaged communication as a flow of messages that travelled only one way from top (government) to bottom (the people) – a process of ‘conveying information and persuasive messages from government to a public in a downward hierarchical way. (Rogers, 1976, p133).
Media channels including broadcast technology when possible and change agents when not, were used to inform and persuade the people about development projects. The people were assigned the passive role of acquiescing to appeals for social change. (Narula and Pearce, 1986).
Despite considerable research, the relative power of the mass media and communication in leading to development was mainly assumed rather than proven. Sinclair notes that:
‘The failure of the media to bring about the instant modernization which the paradigm promised, compounded with the more general failure of “economic development” policies over the so called “development decade” of the 1960s led to critical re-evaluations in every quarter of the media’s relation to economic development. (Sinclair, 1982, p286).
Communication researchers also began to question some of their prior assumptions, becoming especially critical of earlier neglect of the content of mass media, the need for social structural changes in addition to communication, if development were to occur. And the shortcomings of the classical ‘diffusion – of – innovations’ viewpoint which had become an important explanation for development.
By 1976, Everett Rogers had acknowledged that the ‘dominant paradigm’ of development/modernization has ‘passed’. In fact it still survived in a greatly modified form, as in a study by Katz and Wedell which is still concerned with ‘the problems of harnessing broadcasting to national development’. (Katz and Wedell, 1978, p vi).
ELECTRONIC MEDIA: ZAMBIA
In a developing country like Zambia, the mass media is one of the most widely used forms of communication. Decision makers have long understood the importance of the mass media, particularly radio, in providing an instantaneous means of reaching a large segment of the population be it for mobilizing purposes, national emergencies or for transmitting diverse kinds of messages.
But before considering the role and place of radio in Zambia, it is important to underline the realities of life in the developing countries. The salient features are low literacy rates, low per capita incomes and an average life expectancy of almost half of the developed states. In addition, developing countries are characterized by rampant poverty and disease. Mwakawago (1986) says:
‘Although the death rate is high, population growth is phenomenal. The population of Africa will double by the year 2000 but food production will not match population growth. There will be more mouths to feed than food to feed them’. (Quoted in Wedell, 1986, p82).
The majority of the developing countries are producers of raw materials and consumers of finished products from the developed states. That means they are on the periphery of the world economic stage.
Such is the gloomy picture which of necessity has to be taken into consideration in discussing the role of radio, and indeed other mass media in development. Yet, to quote from Mwakawago (1986) again:
‘…inspite of this gloomy picture, there are some very significant, positive aspects in the developing countries. Their potential for development, especially in agricultural field and mineral exploitation is tremendous’. (Quoted in Wedell, 1986, p83).
In Zambia many people have not had the opportunity of a full education and some are unable to read or write. The World Bank (1990) Report indicates that the illiteracy rate in Zambia is 56.9%. 32.6% of this comprises females and 24.3% of males above the age of 15. Thus radio is extensively used especially for educational purposes. It is also used for other purposes as in agriculture. Radio programmes produced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries continue with a fourteen hour total time per week in the seven mail languages plus English. These are:-
- Radio Farm Forum – a thirty minute discussion programme broadcast once a week.
- Zambian Land and the People – a fifteen minute programme in English of a documentary nature usually covering successful farming activities.
- Farm Magazine – a weekly fifteen minute magazine programme in English aimed at large-scale commercial farmers and agricultural policy-makers. It contains agricultural news and interviews and often includes foreign inserts. Organizations supplying such foreign inserts include the Canadian Farm Forum Network, the Voice of America and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
- Farmer’s Notebook – a fifteen minute weekly programme based on the farming calendar and providing advice for that week.
- Rural Notebook – broadcast twice daily except Sundays, providing special advice on what farmers should watch out for.
- Rural Development Corner – a weekly ten minute programme in English which highlights various development projects in the country. It is directed towards farmers and the general public.
With regard to television, Lima Time is broadcast on a weekly basis, at peak viewing time (20.00 hours on Thursdays).
Most Lima Time programmes are of a general documentary nature about agriculture, and take into account that most television receivers are in urban rather than rural areas.
Radio programmes with a health and nutrition content are produced by the Ministry of Health and the National Food and Nutrition Commission and consist mainly of short, two-to-four minute inserts which are played at various times of the week during music programmes – mostly at peak listening times in the morning. Some of the programmes take the form of a dramatic dialogue between two actors, one perhaps acting as a mother with badly nourished children; the other as a nurse, medical assistant, or simply a friend with advice to offer. The episodes are scripted which tends to make them sound contrived and unreal.
Items on health, nutrition and child care are also included in the women’s programmes, produced by the Women’s Section. Until the late 1970s, these programmes had a high degree of field-recorded content, obtained through close co-operation with the Ministry of Community Development.
In the process of recording interviews in the villages, local recipes were collected, which were later printed as a cookbook and used by the Community Development Officers.
In the area of population, some efforts were made in the early 1970s to include information on the negative effects of urbanization. Thus Malikopo (a Tonga language programme), has the hero advising people in urban areas whose income is very low to go back to the land. Until very recently, however, the general attitude towards population issues and family planning in particular, has been largely negative, at times even hostile. Since the late 1980s however, government and public attitudes have shown a positive shift, as reflected in the news and topical coverage of the media.
Health and population is perhaps the most diverse of the development sectors in terms of media user groups. Several government and non-governmental bodies, as well as international and bilateral organizations are involved in health and population activities which are already or could, in one way of another, be supported by broadcasting.
In the Ministry of Health, the Health Education Unit is responsible for organizing and co-ordinating media support of primary health care, including child immunization, diarrhea control, AIDS, nutrition, family health and planning.
On television, ‘Doctor’s Diary’ a panel discussion programme, was initiated in March 1987, discontinued at the end of October the same year, but later resumed in early 1989 under a restructured format. The programme was presented by the former Director-General of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) then Nkana Mine Hospital Medical Superintendent, Dr. Manasseh Phiri until December 1990. Panelists were drawn from both health personnel and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). More than fifteen programmes have dealt with AIDS, which is still a major preoccupation of the Ministry of Health. ‘Palaver’ is another youth panel discussion television programme which recently featured a discussion mainly on AIDS. It was broadcast every Thursday between October 1992 to June 1993 at 18.00 hours.
Apart from functional literacy, academic programmes are also produced for schools and the Educational Broadcasting Services (EBS) was introduced in 1965 solely for this purpose. On gaining independence, Zambia chose to provide free education for all children. This put considerable strain on existing educational facilities both in terms of the availability of teachers and school places. The use of educational media, that is, educational radio and television, was seen as a method of supporting existing educational provision which could reach pupils both in the existing formal school system and those in the growing non-formal system. It was also seen as a means of preventing discrimination between the advantaged urban population and those living in the more remote rural areas. It would ensure access of information and would expose the whole country to improved teaching methods and educational materials of standard, good quality.
Regrettably, most of these programmes have not fully succeeded as their content has either been rendered stale by changing events or lack of funds for updating them. Apart from this, radio sets distributed to schools for pupils have either been stolen or have fallen into a state of disrepair.
The media is also called upon to assist in fostering a sense of national identity among linguistic groups who do not share the same customs or cosmology. In the light of boundaries inherited from the colonialists, Zambia finds herself in a situation in which some of her people on the border areas have relatives in neighbouring countries. For instance some of the Tongas are to be found in Zimbabwe, some Lozis in Botswana, some Lundas in Angola, some Bembas in Zaire, some Tumbukas, Chewas and Ngonis in Malawi. In the fight against colonial rule this had, in itself, delayed the independence of Zambia. Thus the media, and especially radio, was expected to keep the national question burning lest people turned from nationalism to ethnic identification.
There was therefore need for national integration. Nationhood was a new phenomenon. It could not be taken for granted. It had to be built. It meant welding together many tribes, races and ethnic groups. Thus “our country, our government”, plus the symbolism of statehood such as the “national leader, the national flag and the national anthem” became the focus of loyalty in place of the tribal chief and the village headmen.
Thus it is not surprising that the radio signal was heavily loaded with nationalist messages. Radio helps in the creation and enhancement of the new identity of people. Radio also creates a sense of belonging as well as a sense of participation in the achievements of the new state (Mwakawango, 1986, p83).
After gaining independence from Britain in 1964, Zambia persistently tried to discourage tribalism by embarking on vigorous a campaign for a “One Zambia, One Nation”. This slogan preceded every news bulletin on radio and television and became a national motto and was shouted by politicians at rallies to a resounding response by the people. In the national anthem there is also a phrase, ‘One Zambia, One nation is our cry…’
All this adds up to an important role for communication in national development, policy making and planning. But in order to do this, a powerful medium is required to make the population willing to undertake the effort involved. Thus radio becomes the natural choice.
IMPACT OF RADIO
Mwakawango (1986) says:
‘Even a small radio set can be listened to at any one moment by a group of individuals without jostling. With a newspaper even two people cannot read a single copy comfortably. The multiplier effect in radio is quite evident. Therefore, to the policy maker the radio is a very powerful instrument’. (Quoted in Wedell, 1986, p86)
Given the poor transport facilities in Zambia, it is not possible to rely on face-to-face contact. Literacy is low and consequently, newspapers or the written word cannot be the chief means of communication. Television would be ideal. But this medium is extremely expensive to acquire and to run. What remains therefore is the radio.
And with the technological revolution that has taken place over the last thirty years, the radio is still relatively cheap in Zambia and because of that, it can be purchased by most people.
As a result of its wide coverage of distance radio can also play a major role in carrying information to a national audience.
It will be remembered that in Zambia, radio is used extensively in educational programmes and is one effective way of eradicating illiteracy, poverty and disease. It is also used to inform people of what is happening in and outside Zambia, so that better informed Zambians can made rational decisions affecting their lives.
Globally, it has the largest audience of any mass medium. Put into figures, there are about two billion radio sets worldwide. That is one for every four persons.
‘In Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, there is one radio for every ten people. In rural Pakistan over 50% of the households have radios while in Egypt it is around 85%’ (Population Reports, 1986, p854)
However, Africa possesses fewer facilities per head of population than any other continent.
Mytton (1983) argues that the number of radio receivers in Africa tell us little and ‘we should be careful in making assumptions based on such evidence.’ The world distribution of radio receivers for example in 1976 was:
North America – 48%
Europe – 30%
Asia – 12%
America South – 6%
Africa – 3.1%
Oceania – 1.4% (Mytton, 1983, p 23)
By 1987 radio facilities had marginally risen in some poorer regions, and to some extent, have declined in the north:
Asia – 27.7%
North America – 29%
Europe and USSR – 28.3%
Latin America – 7.5% (UNESCO Statistical Year Book, 1989)
Against this background, radio reaches about 80% of the world’s population. The Population Reports (1986) summarizes as follows:
‘There are an estimated 1,600 million radio receivers – and nearly 32,000 radio stations’. (Population Reports, 1986, p 854)
The next chapter examines the evolution of the historical, cultural, political and economic background of Zambia. The Policy on Colonial Broadcasting imposed by the British government before the Second World War also leads into a discussion on the role played by the BBC through its Empire Service.
HISTORICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND
A strangely shaped country, Zambia is one of Africa’s most eccentric legacies of colonialism. Its borders do not correspond to any single or complete tribal or linguistic area, or to the boundaries of any organized society which existed prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
As a result, regionalism constantly threatens to tear the country apart. This regionalism was one of the main reasons why the former president Kenneth Kaunda, declared a one party state in 1972, though like many other African presidents of that era, he also conveniently used it to consolidate his supremacy over the political machinery of the country.
Armed with such power, Kaunda became not only head of the government and the sole legal political party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP), but commander of the armed forces.
He also used his prerogative to order the arrest and indefinite detention of anyone he regarded as a threat. With the winds of change blowing through Africa in the 1990s, however, coupled with the country’s disastrous economic woes, something was bound to give sooner or later.
Following violent street protests against increased food prices in mid-1990, which quickly transformed into a general demand for the return of multi-party politics, Kaunda was forced to bow to public opinion.
Even so, he attempted to head this off with a snap referendum in late 1990. But as protests grew more vocal, he was forced to cancel this, amend the constitution, legalize opposition parties and set elections for October, 1991. In these elections he was defeated and replaced by Frederick Chiluba, the former Chairman of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
The political changes are certainly welcome; and since the new government has committed itself to good governance, transparency and accountability, it remains to be seen whether this will result in Zambia being better placed to address its economic woes.
During the 1980s, Zambia acquired a reputation among donors including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank as a bad repayment risk, and so far Chiluba’s Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) has been trying its best to manoeuvre to seek debt rescheduling, maintain a good flow of aid and restructure industry. It will inevitably mean many more years of austerity for a long suffering population which has already suffered more than it can handle.
Known before Independence as Northern Rhodesia, Zambia was largely the creation of Cecil Rhodes’ British South Africa Company (BSA Company). The company laid claim to this part of Africa in the 1890s.
Rhodes’ purpose in coming was to search for minerals and recruit cheap labour for South African and Rhodesian mines and plantations.
The new colony was slow to develop, even though a railway had been pushed through the territory to the copper mines of Katanga by 1910 and a lead and zinc mine had opened up at Kabwe, formerly known as Broken Hill.
In the late 1920s, however, vast deposits of copper ore were discovered on the Katangan border and by 1940 the mines employed 30,000 workers. Kasoma (1986) notes: ‘By 1930, there were more than 30,000 Africans employed on the Copperbelt. The mines also attracted numerous Whites. Many of these Whites were Afrikaans from South Africa. (Kasoma, 1986, p11).
Migrant labour became a major feature of the country and with the imposition of taxes and commercial farming by White settlers on land appropriated from the local people, it was almost obligatory for families in the centre and south of the colony.
The colony was put under direct British control in 1924. Not long after that the white settlers began to agitate for Federation with Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in order to consolidate their political control over the country.
The Federation did not come about until 1953. The Federation was seen clearly by African nationalists for what it really was and mass demonstrations followed.
Considerable pressure was put on the British government to end the Federation and grant independence, but this took 11 years.
The colonial authorities and their supporters were not keen to see this happen. By the time of independence, the British South Africa Company had extracted some £80 million in royalties from ‘ownership’ of the mineral resources. The British Treasury had collected about £50 million in taxes, yet spent only £5 million on the colony.
At the same time, some £100 million of wealth created by Northern Rhodesia had been spent or invested in Southern Rhodesia in the 10 years of Federation. Zambia still suffers from the effects of this staggering loss of capital and lack of investment.
Kenneth Kaunda, the country’s sole president from independence in 1964 until 1991, was, like Nyerere of Tanzania and Nkrumah of Ghana, one of that breed of early African politicians whose commitment to the liberation of the continent from colonialism and white domination superceded almost everything else.
Throughout his long presidency, he variously supported, regardless of the cost to his own country, FRELIMO (or Mozambique), SWAPO (of Namibia) both wings of the ZIMBABWE PATRIOTIC FRONT (ZAPU, led by Joshua Nkomo and ZANU led by Robert Mugabe) and the AFRICA NATIONAL CONGRESS (ANC of South Africa).
This support did indeed cost Zambia dearly, one of the reasons being that, until the construction of the Tazara Railway line from Dar-es-salaam (Tanzania) to Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia was entirely dependent on the railway systems of Angola, Mozambique, what was then Rhodesia, and South Africa to get exports to the coast and bring in imports.
While few doubted Kaunda’s sincerity on this score, the country was ill-placed to fund such confrontation plus it was also clearly a convenient external issue with which to divert attention from Zambia’s increasingly serious internal problems.
Not only did Kaunda’s support for these liberation movements frequently threaten Zambia with financial ruin and near famine but, on occasions, it led to serious internal security problems.
The most serious threat came from the Smith-Muzorewa regime which, in October 1978, began a determined campaign of sabotage and military intimidation. Virtually all roads and railways, (except one through Zimbabwe-Rhodesia which Zambia depended on for exporting copper and bringing in supplies) had been knocked out.
The final turn of the screw came with the announcement that 300,000 tonnes of maize which had been brought from South Africa to head off a threatened famine could not be transported through Zimbabwe-Rhodesia until Kaunda stopped supporting ZAPU. A massive airlift was mounted by various Western nations but the situation was really only save some months later in April 1980 when Zimbabwe became independent.
Although Kaunda was then able to take Zambia off a war footing, all those years of sacrifice, fears of armed intervention, saboteurs and spies had left their mark. The economy was on the brink of collapse, foreign exchange reserves were almost exhausted, there were serious shortages of food, fuel and other basic commodities, and both the crime and unemployment rates had risen sharply.
In 1986 an attempt was made to diversify the economy and do something about the country’s balance of payments by withdrawing basic food subsidies and fixing the Kwacha’s rate of exchange by holding a weekly auction. The resultant food price rises led to serious country-wide riots in which many people lost their lives, forcing Kaunda to restore subsidies.
To some degree, the restoration of food price controls succeeded in containing social and political unrest but it led to a break with the IMF over nonpayment of short-term loans and this, in turn, plunged Zambia into yet another debt crisis. The problem was compounded by a fall of some 70% in real terms of copper, the country’s main export commodity.
POPULATION AND PEOPLE
The population stands at around 8½ million. In 1963 the population stood at 3.5 million but increased to 4.4 million in 1969 and 5.7 million in 1980. Estimates based on the 1980 census results show that the population had further increased to 6.7 million in 1984 and 7.5 million in 1988. (Zambia’s National Population Policy, 1990, p3).
The following are the statistics obtained from the World Bank (1990) report:-
- In 1990 the population stood at 7.84
- The rate of growth increased from 3.6% per annum in 1980 – 1985 to 3.7% per annum in the 1985 – 1990 period
- The Gross National Product (GNP) per capital is US$390. (World Bank Report, 1990, p43).
There are 73 dialects spoken in Zambia, but the main languages are Bemba, Nyanja, Tonga, Lozi, Kaonde, Luvale and Lunda. English is the official language. Language allocation on radio established during the colonial era has hardly changed. The seven languages recognized for the purposes of broadcasting in addition to English have been in use in
primary school education, and at political rallies. Mytton (1983) observes that the 1969 census suggested that only 15% of the population spoke a mother tongue which was not closely related to one of the seven African broadcast languages. Thus radio spoke to a larger proportion of the population, both urban and rural, either in a language spoken home or at least in one closely related to it. (Mytton, G, 1983).
Bemba and Nyanja, make up 34% and 17% of the population respectively. Each of these languages has become a lingua franca in significant parts of the urban areas of Zambia. One or the other is spoken by many more individuals than one learns either language at home as a child.
In his 1970-1973 national survey, Mytton (1983) noted that:
‘56% claimed knowledge of Bemba and 42% of Nyanja. Of the time devoted to Zambian languages, the Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS) allocated 23% to Bemba and 21% to Nyanja. The small language groups were allocated proportions ranging from 16% for Tonga to 8% for Kaonde’. (Mytton, 1983, p77).
This allocation of broadcast time has been a delicate and controversial issue. Certain chiefs and other prominent members of small language
groups felt that they are disadvantaged: ZBS’s recognition of a language and its use on the radio gave that language and tribe a status superior to certain other languages and tribes.
‘Members of those groups which were left out of broadcasting felt aggrieved and often campaigned vigorously for recognition. Those belong to language groups such as Kaonde, Luvale, Lunda and Lozi, which were recognized but received proportionately less time, also protested, saying that all the recognized languages should in fairness receive equal time’. (Mytton, 1983, p77).
CROWN COLONY POLITICS
It will be remembered that Northern Rhodesia had a constitution characteristic of crown colonies. The British Parliament legislated for the country; many policy changes were effected through Orders-in-council. Routine matters were dealt with locally. The Governor representing the crown and responsible to the colonial Secretary, had executive powers. He was assisted by an Executive Council, originally composed exclusively
of the Chief Secretary, Attorney General, Financial Secretary and Secretary for Native Affairs.
At first, the Legislative Council had nine official and five unofficial members; the latter were drawn from the white settlers who had the franchise denied to the African population. Africans were governed from 1930 through a system of local government called ‘indirect rule’ by which the Provincial Administration ruled through local chiefs. This system placed the African population outside the mainstream of Northern Rhodesia’s politics which were conducted in the Legislative Council.
The ambition of the settlers was to get an unofficial majority on the Legislative Council where they constituted themselves as an unofficial opposition to the policies of the Colonial Office. By the outbreak of the Second World War, the settlers had made steady gains and managed to get representation on both the Executive and Finance Committees and had increased the number of unofficials in the Legislative Council although they did not gain a majority.
In the second half of the 1930s, two talented politicians emerged who showed the settlers the way and gave them determined leadership.
In 1953, Sir Stewart Gore-Browne, a retired army colonel was elected to the legislative Council. In 1938, when Gore-Browne became the nominated member to represent the interests of the Africans, his seat at Broken Hill was taken over by Roy Welensky, a locomotive engine driver and railway union official who had grown up in Southern Rhodesia.
The settlers started to agitate very strongly for closer union with Southern Rhodesia fearing that Northern Rhodesia might eventually be given majority rule.
The end of the 1920s saw the Colonial Office placing increasing emphasis on trusteeship and African interests. These sentiments were precisely what the settlers did not want and they were greeted with suspicion in colonies like Kenya and Northern Rhodesia where the white settlers hoped to win the political kingdom.
A shattering blow to settler political expectation was dealt in 1929 with the publication of the MEMORANDUM ON NATIVE POLICY IN EAST AFRICA, drawn up by the Colonial Secretary which restated the paramountcy of African interests in multi-racial territories. The memorandum reiterated the Devonshire Declaration of 1923 made with reference to Kenya that:
‘the interests of the African native must be paramount, and that if, and when, those interests and the interests of the immigrant races should conflict, the former should prevail.’ (Command Paper, 1922-23)
The doctrine of paramountcy caused uproar amongst the Europeans in Africa. In order to calm the settlers, the Colonial Office backed down and the doctrine became a dead letter. Even after the retraction, the ghost of a potential paramountcy continued to haunt the settlers of Northern Rhodesia.
The memorandum was a turning point in settler politics in Northern Rhodesia. Amalgamation had been under discussion for many years but opinion had been divided and even those in favour did not feel there was any urgency. Prior to the memorandum and the economic future that copper seemed to promise, most settlers either hoped for self-government for Northern Rhodesia alone or amalgamation with the south when the north was more prosperous and better terms could be obtained. But as a result of the memorandum and the economic slump of 1931 – 34, the majority of the settlers began to feel strongly for amalgamation and started a concerted campaign to agitate for closer union with Southern Rhodesia.
It is against this background of white settler political activities and ambitions that I shall start to look at the development of radio broadcasting in Northern Rhodesia. I shall begin by discussing the development of the British Government’s policy on Colonial Broadcasting before the Second World War paying particular attention to the BBC’s Empire Service and the local colonial broadcasting.
THE INFLUENCE OF THE BBC EMPIRE SERVICE ON THE
DEVELOPMENT OF LOCAL COLONIAL BROADCASTING
The British government’s policy on colonial broadcasting before the Second World War has two areas – the BBC’s Empire Service and the local colonial broadcasting. The objectives of the colonial broadcasting as they emerged in the second half of the 1920s when the Colonial Office began to explore the implications of broadcasting for the colonies and for the colonial power were: the projection of Britain in the international competition for the ears of the world; the strengthening of the imperial link especially with the kith and kin overseas, and the use of broadcasting in the colonies as an instrument of administration, education and entertainment.
The BBC Director-General, John Reith was interested in colonial broadcasting and pushed for it. He was interested in seeing the establishment of both the Empire Service for the BBC and autonomous local broadcasting stations. (Briggs, A, 1965, p370).
By 1929, the BBC had become rather alarmed at the growing number of foreign shortwave broadcasting stations sending their messages across national boundaries and devoted to ‘world-wide presentation of the national viewpoint in terms of national culture. (Briggs, A, 1965, p374-375).
The BBC felt ‘the boundary between cultural and tendentious propaganda is, in practice, very indefinite’ and alluded to the fact that counter propaganda might become necessary. The BBC made its concern known over the power of American broadcasting interests. The commercial and political interests in Britain seemed biased in favour of a shortwave service.
The climate seemed very favourable because the Colonial Office also called for an Empire Service. There was a feeling at the Colonial Office:
‘that broadcasting was a service of great imperial value…from the point of view of sentiment, general imperial patriotism, finance, commerce.’ (Colonial Office 323/1338/5302/1, Memo on Empire Broadcasting, Bowyer, E 22nd May 1935).
Interest was expressed at the Colonial Office Conferences of 1927 and 1930. The BBC had prepared two schemes but they were rejected by the British government for financial reasons. In 1931, however, with Britain experiencing a financial depression, the BBC realized that the only way to get anything done was to meet the cost of the Empire Service by itself. Money was allotted for this purpose out of the home listeners’ licence fees and on December 19, 1932, the first regular broadcasts of the Empire Service went on the air. Briggs (1965) observes that:
‘the decision was an important one, and it is a comment on the cautious and unimaginative political attitudes of the inter-war years that the BBC had been forced to take it unilaterally and on its own responsibility.’ (Briggs, A, 1965, p380-381)
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for colonies at that time, W.G.A. Ormsby-Gore (1924-29) and later Secretary of State for the colonies (1936-38), was enthusiastic about the decision. Empire broadcasting was a matter ‘of the utmost political as well as commercial importance to this country and was long overdue.’ (Ormsby-Gore to Snowden, Quoted in Briggs, 1965, Vol 2, p380).
The launching of the Empire Service activated colonial broadcasting activities. One Secretary of State after another spoke of the importance they attached to wireless reception in the colonies of the Empire Service. Another development was that recognition was soon given to the importance of local colonial broadcasting.
Sir Phillip Cunliffe-Lister who was Secretary of State for colonies (1931035) addressed governors on the subject of reception in the colonies in a number of circular dispatches, the most comprehensive being that of May 8, 1935. In this dispatch, Cunliffe-Lister discussed not only the purpose of colonial broadcasting but the question of reception facilities. His desire was to have programmes of British origin being heard loud and clear in the colonies.
In 1935, this issue had assumed greater importance than when the Empire Service started because of proliferation of hostile propaganda being aired on shortwave by Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy. It was clear in Cunliffe-Listers’ view that the ‘boundary between cultural and tendentious propaganda’ had definitely been overstepped.
Cunliffe-Listers’ idea of projecting Britain was through the broadcast of royal and ceremonial occasions which gave people:
‘a more vivid realization of their connection with the empire.’ (Cunliffe-Lister, May, 1935, Colonial Office 323/1338/5302/1)
This was proved with the tremendous success of the first Royal Christmas broadcast when King George V spoke to both his home and overseas subjects in 1932. The Empire service was meant for white populations under British rule and the few indigenous people who had the educational background to appreciate the broadcasts which were ‘representative of British tradition and sentiment.’ (Memo on Broadcasting and the Colonial Empire, 1935, Colonial Office 323/1338/5302/23)
Broadcasting in Africa was first meant for the benefit of Europeans living in the more technologically advanced areas. Mytton (1983) observes
‘Before the Second World War, broadcasting was aimed almost exclusively at Europeans, from stations in Johannesburg, Salisbury, Lourenco Marques, Nairobi and Dakar.’ (Mytton, 1983, p52)
Johannesburg went on the air in 1924, Kenya in 1928 and Salisbury (Southern Rhodesia) in 1932. In Kenya, broadcasting was organized by arrangement with a commercial company. At first it was the British East African Broadcasting Company but this was later taken over by Cable and Wireless Limited. In other African countries there was an audience for the Empire Service amongst those who could afford expensive shortwave sets to listen directly to Daventry.
In his May 8 dispatch, Cunliffe-Lister enclosed a BBC memorandum dealing with
‘recent developments in the Empire Broadcasting Service and the methods of reception which may be employed for the Daventry Service.’ (Cunliffe-Lister, May 8, 1935, Colonial Office 323/1338/5302/1)
The first was directly through shortwave receivers; the second through sets turned into local transmitting stations as in Kenya. The third method was rediffusion: Daventry would be received at a central station and from there relayed over a line network.
The Secretary of State particularly recommended rediffusion for these territories which would not see their way to establishing a broadcasting station. Cunliffe-Lister also raised the issue of educational broadcasting which was becoming increasingly important in Britain. He urged colonies which had local broadcasting to pay careful attention to its use for educational and administrative purposes. The Secretary of State made it clear he was anxious to get progress reports.
Shortly after Cunliffe-Lister sent his dispatch to the governors in the colonies, the Colonial Office had a succession of Colonial Secretaries of State; June 7, 1935, Malcom McDonald, November 27, J.H. Thomas and May 29, 1936, W.G.A. Ormsby-Gore.
Each of them followed up the interest in colonial broadcasting. During the short time that Malcom McDonald was Secretary of State for the Colonies, he convened a meeting at the Colonial Office attended by Sir John Maffey, R. Vernon, E. Bowyer (the colonial office’s liaison person with the BBC) and Sir Arnold Hogdeson. At this meeting, McDonald announced that the Empire stood for ideas and principles of Government which were being subjected to attack from many sides. He named Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan and urged that:
‘the fullest use ought to be made of this most powerful instrument, broadcasting, to uphold, in the colonies, British principles, ideas and culture, so that the peoples of the colonies should appreciate more the privilege they enjoyed in membership of the Empire. In the final resort it would be such appreciation by the people of the Empire and not armed force that would hold the Empire together.‘ (McDonald, September 4, 1935, Colonial Office 323/1338/5301/23)
McDonald then suggested that a committee be set up to make a thorough
and comprehensive investigation of colonial broadcasting. McDonald did not stay long enough as Secretary of State to see his suggestion carried out. It was his successor, J.H. Thomas who acted on his suggestion and his first step was to instruct the BBC to prepare a preliminary memorandum which was circulated to colonial governors. The BBC memorandum went straight to the point:
‘The time has come for consideration to be given to definite comprehensive action throughout the colonial empire to the end that the Daventry Service should cover the Empire satisfactorily in both the technical and programme sense.‘ (DDC Introductory Memo, 1936, Colonial Office 323/1338/5301/23)
In February 1936, J.H. Thomas appointed a committee under the chairmanship of the Earl of Plymouth to undertake a study of colonial broadcasting.
On the committee were representatives from the Colonial Office who included Vernon and Bowyer with J. Megson as Secretary; and from the General Post Office (GPO), Crown Agents and the Advisory Committee on Education in the colonies. Their terms of reference were:
‘to consider and recommend what steps could usefully be taken to accelerate the provision of broadcasting services in the Colonial Empire, to co-ordinate such activities with the work of the British Broadcasting Corporation and to make them a more effective instrument for promoting local and imperial interests.’ (Plymouth Report, 1937, Colonial No. 139)
The purpose of the Plymouth Report, published in 1937, was to encourage the reception of Daventry in the colonies especially of events that were of Imperial significance and to promote the development of local broadcasting services. Singled out for mention was the unique value of the empire service in providing:
‘regular daily contact with the home country (and at times with other parts of the Empire) and the repeated projection on the minds of listeners overseas of British culture and ideas… and the world-wide transmission of broadcasts by His Majesty King George V at Christmas and of the Jubilee celebrations’ as outstanding examples of the value of linking the Empire by broadcasting. (Plymouth Report, 1937, Colonial No. 139, p2)
The new Secretary of State, Ormsby-Gore, in commending the Plymouth report to colonial governors, drew particular attention to paragraph 14 which set out the aims and objectives of colonial broadcasting. He said he saw broadcasting:
‘…not only as an instrument of entertainment for Europeans and others of similar education and means, who can for the most part listen indirect to Daventry and other stations on shortwave receiving sets, but also as an instrument of advanced administration, an instrument not only and perhaps not even primarily for the entertainment but rather for the enlightment and education of the more backward sections of the population and for the instruction in public health, agriculture, etc.’ (Plymouth Report, 1937, Colonial No. 139)
This principle is often still quoted. It is in keeping with the tradition of broadcasting as a public service established by John Reith, the first Director-General of the BBC. The principle was the basis of the report and the report itself came to be the authoritative text on colonial broadcasting for many years.
The Plymouth Report (1937) expressed the hope that colonial governments would at least spend a little money on investigating the possibilities of local broadcasting for Africans. What the authors of the report wanted was an experiment in the effectiveness of educational broadcasting in adult education similar to the Bantu Education Cinema Experiment (BECE), in progress in Kenya and the experiment in broadcasting to schools that was going on in Ceylon. They both saw film and radio broadcasting as a way of overcoming the problem of illiteracy.
Adult education was a popular topic in the 1930s and Hilda Matheson (1935) viewed broadcasting as an important means of contact with illiterate and semi-literate people:
‘To teach a whole population to read and write is the work of generations; but broadcasting can jump the stage of illiteracy and carry the new knowledge by a means which seems the most natural of all means to tribal society. The very drums of Africa are themselves a form of broadcasting. It is indeed possible that the art of listening, which is sometimes so difficult to Europeans trained by books, will come with no effort at all to the village and family units of Africa.’ (Matheson, H, 1935, 0387)
The fist fledgeling steps towards local broadcasting to Africans were in West Africa. In the gold coast, broadcasting was first confined to rediffusion of the Empire Service and local programming was introduced later.
In 1937, the Northern Rhodesia governor informed the Secretary of State Ormsby-Gore that the time ‘is not yet ripe in this territory for the establishment of a local broadcasting service.’ He went on to say however, that consideration was being given to equipping all government stations with receiving sets and when this happened he intended to ‘inaugurate experiments in the local broadcasting of messages, utilizing one of the transmitters at the Broken hill wireless station. (Young to Ormsby-Gore, August 10, 1937, Colonial Office 323/1494/5301/40).
As a way of facilitating development for the Africans, the Northern Rhodesia Central Treasury Fund set aside £30,000 for the purpose. A Native development Board under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary was constituted. Since one of the functions of the Board was to assist Africans develop the newly constituted Board, in 1938 it asked the Post Master General to produce a plan to be financed with a grant of £500 from the Fund.
The Post Master General’s proposal for a number of small, provincial broadcasting stations using low power transmitters was accepted by the Board. The experiment was to be conducted by the Provincial Administration at Broken Hill (Kabwe).
The plan by the Post Master General included the idea that radio receiving sets listened to by the Africans should only be able to tune in to one or two stations only. The argument put forward at that time was that:
‘this would not only save batteries, but that it would stop the Africans from listening to other radio stations that were broadcasting anti-British propaganda and this was clearly not in the interest of the Empire.’ (Fraenkel, P, 1959, p18)
Recommendations for some programme content were also included: gramophone records, lessons in English, BBC relays (especially of Royal occasions), concerts and tribal dances, readings and dialogue in different
vernaculars, local news and sports, recordings of public functions and even church services arranged by some larger missions.
From the suggestions of the content put forward to the Board, it was quite clear that the broadcasting experiment was in keeping with the spirit of the Plymouth Report (1937), which stipulated that broadcasting in the colonies should be concerned with the ‘enlightenment and education of the more backward sections of the population.’ The relaying of the BBC programmes, especially the royal occasions fits well with the original idea of the Empire Broadcasting – that it should reinforce the sentimental and patriotic ties of the Empire. But this plan was never implemented because Governor Myabin who took over form Young as Northern Rhodesia’s governor was not keen and was skeptical about the success of the Northern Rhodesia experiment.
A major event took place on the Copperbelt which had a powerful influence on the development of the mass media in Northern Rhodesia in general.
A strike by the African mine workers in 1935 which caused the Northern Rhodesia administration to begin the publication of a newspaper for Africans. The copper industry was just starting to recover from the slump of the early 1930s when an inadequately publicized change in the tax law provoked a strike amongst workers at Mufulira, Nkana and Luanshya. Troops opened fire at the Roan Antelope Mine and six Africans were killed. This was the first outbreak of urban violence in the country’s history and had far-reaching consequences. The Europeans, shocked and frightened, adopted ‘laarger politics’ and banded together in the Legislative Council to protect European interests.
What was highly significant for the future of mass communication in the country was the finding of the Commission of Enquiry into the Copperbelt Disturbances (1935) that the Watchtower Movement was ‘an important predisposing cause.’ The teaching of this ‘dangerously subversive movement’ had brought ‘civil and spiritual authority, especially native authority into contempt.’
The spread of the Watchtower, they thought, was proof of the influence of literature. The commission concluded that the spread of the movement had been greatly helped by the fact there was no other literature available ‘convenient and in cheap form’ for Africans to read. It was therefore recommended that ‘cheap and suitable literature’ should be provided to counteract the pernicious influence of the Watchtower publications (Report of the Commission Appointed to Enquire into the Disturbances in the Copperbelt, Northern Rhodesia, 1935).
Thus the first government newspaper to be published in Northern Rhodesia was MUTENDE. The first issue appeared in January 1936, and was a response to the miner’s strike and was to be some kind of insurance against another rising on the Copperbelt. It was to keep people informed of what government was doing and so prevent wild rumours and false reports which might precipitate a disturbance.
Kasoma (1986) has observed that in retrospect, one is bound to make the conclusion that MUTENDE was not meant to inform, entertain and educate, in that order, but that the government made education the most important of the three roles and news was considered the least important. (Kasoma, F, 1986, p47)
Perhaps this is better exemplified in an article by the papers’ former editor, J.G. Phillips in its last issue when he wrote:
‘It is generally realized that MUTENDE was started for one reason only. It was intended to supply reading material for ordinary people. Government had noted that while thousands of people were obtaining little knowledge of how to read, there was very little for them to read when they had completed their studies. (Quoted in Kasoma, 1986, p47-49)
Many copies of the paper were also distributed to the African troops fighting along Britain in the Second World War to read. it was the only cheap and available literature that the administration (Information Office) could find ‘suitable’ at that time.
Interest in broadcasting was also expressed on the Copperbelt in 1938. The reason seems to have been very much related to the miner’s strike three years previously. The Provincial Commissioner on the Copperbelt was making enquiries about wireless equipment which could be used in the event of an industrial disturbance to relay messages and to calm large numbers of Africans.
This enquiry was probably stimulated by Ormsby-Gore whose dispatch of 1938 spoke of:
‘The potential advantages of installation of loud-speaker apparatus in mining camps and other similar compact communities in the colonial dependences so that in case of a local emergency the administrative officer or other responsible officers who might be available would be in a position to address the community in question in its own language.’ (Ormsby-Gore, March 21, 1938, Colonial Office 323/1588/5323)
The Copperbelt Provincial Commissioner who was making the enquiries and had seemed interested in broadcasting had not gone far with his investigations when the war broke out.
The outbreak of the Second World War was a blessing in disguise for the development of broadcasting in Northern Rhodesia. The government official urged some European amateur radio enthusiasts to broadcast war news to Africans on the Copperbelt to prevent the mining population from being disturbed by rumours. Out of this experiment was born the Northern Rhodesia government broadcasting station.
It will be remembered that the Plymouth Report (1937) had looked forward to a rapid development of local broadcasting in Africa and other colonial territories. It did not happen. By the time World War Two started, for the most part all that had happened, was the accumulation of principles, most important of which was that colonial broadcasting should be developed as a public service fundamentally for the administration and ‘enlightenment’ of colonial peoples.
In 1948, Secretary of State for the colonies, Arthur Creech Jones (1946-1950) despatched to all Colonial Governors his confidential circular of May 14, 1948 – Broadcasting in the Colonies. In this circular Creech reminded Governors that little progress had been made in the last twelve years, and the need to introduce broadcasting services was now even greater through the quickening pace of social, economic and political development although the urgency would vary from colony to colony. In the territories themselves, the response was variable; many officials were indifferent, some outspoken against the waste of money on an extremely expensive, relatively new invention, but a significant few of the post-war administrators were enthusiastic and fortunately these included some Governors, Chief Secretaries and Senior officials who had the power and drive to respond effectively.
In the next chapter, I shall look at the role played by some of these officials in the development of broadcasting in Northern Rhodesia, paying particular attention to the introduction of the ‘Saucepan Special’ which was also known as the ‘poor man’s’ radio.
THE NORTHERN RHODESIA INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Britain established a Ministry of Information for the purpose of directing the nations’ war propaganda effort. The Empire Publicity Division of the new Ministry directed colonial war propaganda. By 1940, the Colonial office set up its own Public Relations Branch. Hence from 1940, Britain had two propaganda agencies whose concern was assembling a propaganda machine for the colonies. The finance, facilities and means of production for the Colonial Office publicity were provided by the Ministry of Information. The Colonial Office had complete control in that the Secretary of State for the colonies was responsible for overall policy and the Public Relations Branch had to scrutinize all the material for the ministry before it was sent out.
When the war seemed certain to break out, the Northern Rhodesia Governor, Herbert Young, received a message from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, which had been sent to all other Colonial Governors, that in the event of a war a Ministry of Information in the colony would be established, and to facilitate planning, the governor was asked to supply details to the Colonial Office about the mass media in Northern Rhodesia.
When war finally broke out, an Information Officer was appointed immediately. Sir Stewart Gore-Browne who was the unofficial member nominated to represent African interests in the legislative council, was the first choice of the Northern Rhodesia Executive Council. However, when it was discovered that Sir Stewart would have to resign from the Legislative Council to take up the post Kenneth Bradley, a colonial civil servant with some journalistic background, was appointed instead.
In the first few months of the war, the new Information Office was more or less a distribution centre for propaganda material sent from the Ministry of Information in London. Very little propaganda material originated locally. Northern Rhodesia Governor Maybin was hesitant about exposing the Africans to war propaganda saying it might give the Africans ideas.
When Kenneth Bradley started the Information Office, ideas about the role of an information officer were undefined. But he was an ideas man with a flair for journalism, and at its most general, Bradley understood that his job was to keep Northern Rhodesia’s plural society correctly informed about the war and the activities of the government and to counteract rumours and stimulate the war effort. Throughout his tenure as Information Officer, Bradley felt that the greatest challenge to his job was getting the war propaganda across to the African population. Both the message and the medium presented challenges. It was not only a question of how to reach the Africans, but of what to tell them.
The first problem then, was that of means – there were no facilities. Few Africans outside the Copperbelt had ever seen a film, and fewer still had ever had the opportunity of listening to the radio. Propaganda in print had the in-built limitation of literacy.
The second problem that presented a challenge to Bradley was comprehension. Most Africans at that time did not have the geographical, historical or technological background to follow in a meaningful way the events and the causes of a highly mechanized war happening many thousands or kilometres away. Related to the basic problem of comprehension was the issue of how much information about the war should be given out to the Africans and to compound the problem there were two types of Africans; those that were on the Copperbelt and had little education and whom the Colonial Officials agreed needed to be informed about the war, and those that were illiterate and lived in the rural areas.
Kenneth Bradley launched the Northern Rhodesia Information Department in 1939 and thus became the first Information Officer. However, early in 1942, Bradley was promoted and posted to the Falkland Islands as Governor. The new Information Officer, Harry Franklin, was at the time of his appointment Assistant Secretary for Native Affairs at the Secretariat in Lusaka. In April of 1942, Harry Franklin was to embark on what was to be a distinguished career as head of the Northern Rhodesia Information Services, a post he held till 1950.
After Franklin’s appointment, the Northern Rhodesia government made some notable changes in its propaganda policy. The duties of the Information Officer were extended to include Public Relations. The innovation of the public relations function was noted with interest by the Colonial Office and the idea was recommended to other Colonial Information Offices.
With the added responsibilities, the Northern Rhodesia Information Office was upgraded and as part of the upgrading, all heads of departments and Provincial Commissioners were directed to keep the Information Office fully informed, which included making available material for background information which could not be made public for security reasons. The response to this was divided. Some officials cooperated willingly while others refused to assist in any way, regarding the information department as a very brash organization.
Not only were the objectives of the information office extended in 1942, but the information officer was not directed to
‘expand services; to increase efficiency and to apply for whatever funds should be necessary to obtain staff and equipment for this purpose.’ (Northern Rhodesia Information Department Annual Report 1946, p3)
What it meant was the he was required to build up the office into a department. As it was during the war, expansion was limited due to shortages of staff and equipment. Despite these restrictions Franklin managed, by 1943, to set up a film section with a cinema van, a photographic section, acquired a broadcasting officer and an assistant information officer.
The publication I 1944 of MASS EDUCATION IN AFRICAN SOCIETY was very welcome to Franklin. He was enthusiastic about prominence being given to mass education in the colony. The inspiration for the Mass Education report was political and came from Arthur Creech-Jones a Labour member of parliament, founder of the Fabian Colonial Bureau and a post war Secretary of State for the Colonies. Creech-Jones’ concern was that the Advisory Committee on Education had not given enough attention to the question of mass education in the colonies.
The most notable efforts in the field had been as a result of missionary initiative. He also noted that the Colonial Office had also stressed the great potential of the electronic media, film and broadcasting for adult education in the pre-war years with little practical result. In sum, the issue of community centred adult education was not a new idea at the Colonial Office. Statements of principle had been made in various reports, including the Plymouth Report (1937), but little had actually been done.
When the Advisory Committee on Education in the Colonies met in 1940, it accepted Creech-Jones’ proposal. Although mass education did not come in for specific mention it was interpreted as meaning education for the betterment of the community to improve the quality of life of the people. It was to involve a literacy campaign and follow-up literature, rural development, agricultural extension schemes, health and hygiene programmes. The important aspect was that the community was to be actively involved and, if possible, the ones to initiate the improvement scheme.
The idea was not to just have the Africans living healthy and active lives, but there was also a political objective – education for citizenship; that unless people had a general education, ‘true democracy cannot function, and the rising hope of self-government will inevitable suffer frustration (Mass Education in African Society, Colonial No. 186, p4)
The idea of mass education was to find one of its most ardent disciples in Harry Franklin. Franklin devoted a major part of his work to looking after the interests of Northern Rhodesia’s African troops which he considered an extremely important aspect of public relations. One way of helping the troops was to keep up a constant supply of reading material, free letter schemes by broadcast to keep the troops in touch with home. While Franklin vigorously campaigned for a better deal for the African troops, he was restricted by the Colonial Office in the handling of certain local issues. For example, anything to do with the political future of the colony or anything to do with charges of racial discrimination or colour-bar by African miners on the Copperbelt, were off limits.
THE FIRST RADIO STATION
RADIO EXPERIMENT 1940 – 1948
War propaganda for the Africans was conveyed by means of radio, film and the press, mainly MUTENDE. At the beginning of the war, the Copperbelt Provincial Commissioner, concerned about the possibility of Africans being ‘disturbed’ by wild rumours, encouraged some European amateur radio enthusiasts to broadcast special news broadcasts and talks provided by the administration to the workers in the mines. Kasoma (1990) adds that:
‘… experimental broadcasts were conducted as early as 1939 on the Copperbelt twice a week by the Copperbelt Amateur Wireless Club.’ (Kasoma, 1990, p43)
Programmes in three local languages were broadcast twice weekly. These were in Bemba, Nyanja and Lozi. African announcers were used and the programmes consisted of a news broadcast and a talk.
The talks explaining the war were written by a District Commissioner in Kitwe, his script checked by the Provincial Commissioner of the province.
The Mining Corporations were very helpful. They fitted sets and loud-speakers in the compounds in four mining towns of Luanshya, Nkana, Chingola and Mufulira. In other parts of the Copperbelt, beer-halls, recreation centres and mission stations were equipped with communal sets. European settlers were encouraged to allow their African employees to listen in on their household sets.
In so far as the Northern Rhodesia administration and the newly created Information Office were concerned, the Copperbelt experimental news services, provided at this stage by the amateur radio enthusiasts, succeeded in its objective of ‘spreading accurate news’ among the uninformed and illiterate African people. The Information Office later announced that it would start its own government broadcasting station.
By 1940, the Northern Rhodesia administration seems to have been satisfied that these broadcasts by the amateurs were fulfilling the functions of combatting rumours about the war and also keeping the Copperbelt workforce quiet. The Europeans in the Legislative Council were happy with the broadcasts and decided that the Information Office should take over from the amateurs and run a small government radio station in Lusaka.
On September 18, 1940, Governor Maybin officially opened the new broadcasting station of the Northern Rhodesia government. An African drum was used as the ‘station identification’. In his speech, the Governor emphasized the immediate political and administrative use that the station would serve and that radio would bring government and people closer together.
The idea of using broadcasting as a means of providing a government with a speedy means of communication in the time of some national emergency, was first recognized in Britain during the General Strike of 1926 when the BBC news bulletin first came into prominence.
After the strike, it was widely believed that the BBC news had contributed towards dispelling rumours and had a steadying effect on public opinion and hence preventing the strike from reaching more serious proportions. (Briggs, 1965, p383-384)
What was happening in Northern Rhodesia was that the administration had got to the point of starting an official government broadcasting station not to enlighten, educate or entertain, but for what was a political and administrative purpose – to broadcast news and refute rumours during a national emergency, in this case the Second World War. Kasoma (1990) observes:
‘The Lusaka station carried out transmissions three days in a week for one hour every day in the first year. Its purpose was primarily to inform Africans of the territory about the progress of World War Two.’ (Kasoma, 1990, p43)
Although these broadcasts could be heard elsewhere, the initial role of broadcasting in the war effort was to broadcast mostly to urban and particularly Copperbelt towns. The broadcasts were seen not to be relevant to the rural Africans whom they did not want to start immigrating into urban centres.
When it was found that recruits were slow in coming forward for the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, the administration changed its policy. It was decided to step up the flow of information in the rural areas. Talks by returned African troops became a popular radio feature.
For the campaign to flood the rural areas with more information to succeed, the Information Officer sought to arrange for more communal sets to be made available. It was war-time, and obtaining radio equipment at that time proved to be difficult. However, the prospect of obtaining more radio sets and making them more available to the Africans caused some white settlers and even District Commissioners some concern. They wanted the sets pre-set or put in the hands of the missionaries or government official. It should be noted that the idea of controlling Africans in listening to the radio was very prevalent among Northern Rhodesia government officials. They feared that the Africans would listen to anti-British propaganda. Not all broadcasting material was concerned with the war. From the very start music was included to attract listeners.
As time went by, emphasis came to be placed on the local news. The war-time Information Officers, Bradley and Franklin were both interested in the future of radio being used for mass education.
Although Franklin was enthusiastic about the promise that broadcasting had for mass education, the mood at the Lusaka Secretariat was one of caution. A new studio had been built and opened in 1945 on what is now Independence Avenue and the new radio station seemed poised for better days ahead. However, at the end of the war many government officials were skeptical about the efficacy of the medium. At the end of 1945, the Northern Rhodesia Executive Council decided that no more money should be spent on the development of radio until the efficacy of the medium had been proven.
Many reasons could be advanced as to why the broadcasting services could not prove itself as an effective mass medium. But two are fundamental: First, there were few Africans with access to radios and second, the fledgeling radio station was beset with many technical problems that interfered with transmission and reception.
Radios were most listened to on communal sets, and at the end of the war it was estimated that there were not more than 200 sets in the whole country. At most, only a handful of Africans could afford the luxury of owning a radio set. Community listening was not the best; beer-halls and community centres were often crowded and certainly noisy.
It was impossible to obtain adequate equipment or staff during wartime. The station was plagued with endless technical problems. Transmitters were too weak to cover the whole country and in some areas, transmission was always poor, in others it varied with the seasons. All these factors help to explain the hesitancy in the administration about the future of broadcasting. These factors gave ammunition to those white settlers and even those in the government who posited that the African did not want broadcasting and would never understand it. In addition the white settler politicians and some officials continued to argue that Africans would listen to subversive foreign propaganda and cause trouble. Even in the face of all this opposition, Franklin had the faith of a pioneer in the future of African Broadcasting.
CABS AND THE SAUCEPAN SPECIAL
The issue of post-war broadcasting came up at the annual Information Officers’ Conference held in Nairobi. Franklin pushed the idea saying it was good for reasons of efficacy and economy. However the idea could not be taken up immediately because there was uncertainty as to whether Northern Rhodesia fell in the East or Central African zone in the plans of the Colonial Ministry of Information. This issue was resolved in 1944 when the British government set up the Central African Council. One of the functions of the Central African Council was to co-ordinate Public Relations and it was to the Public Relations Committee of the Central African Council that Franklin submitted his plan for regional broadcasting.
His plan was that all African broadcasting in the three territories of Nyasaland, Northern and Southern Rhodesia should be centred in Lusaka, the Northern Rhodesia capital under its Information Department; and all European broadcasting in Salisbury (Harare) under the Southern Rhodesia Broadcasting Service.
A BBC engineer, W.E.C. Varley handled the technical aspect of Franklin’s plan for the Central African Broadcasting Station (CABS). The Public Relations Committee of the Central African Council met again in 1946 and Franklin put forward again his plan for regional broadcasting in Central Africa. Before the meeting, Franklin circulated a memorandum in which he spoke very highly of the merits of broadcasting to Africans. He hoped that before very long cheap dry battery receivers would be available so that individual Africans would be able to own their own sets. He devoted much of his energy in speaking about what he saw as the prime function of broadcasting and that it was an aid in mass education.
To Franklin, mass education was not only for ‘the enlightenment and education of the more backward sections of the population’ in the words of the Plymouth Report (1937), but also as having ultimate political value.
From the onset of his career as Northern Rhodesia’s Information Officer, Franklin was a keen devotee of the ideals of mass education.
It will be remembered that he encouraged the African soldiers to read and write during the Second World War and distributed copies of the government paper, MUTENDE. He advocated for mass education because he was very distrustful of the emerging group of educated African leaders, which was typical of colonial civil servants. His mass education policy was aimed at counter-acting the influence of new leaders. He hoped that mass education would raise the level of information amongst the ordinary people so that they would not be exploited by the more educated. He saw this process already becoming apparent in the country and considered mass education ‘absolutely necessary to avoid this danger.’
Franklin was happy when he finally succeeded in winning approval from the Central African Council for his regional broadcasting plan which had also been submitted to the three countries individually. In 1947, after many delays, the scheme was approved and funds allocated. The African side of the agreement was implemented in 1948, but it was not until 1950 that Southern Rhodesia began broadcasting to the European population in Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
Although the Central African Council had given the nod to Franklins’ idea of the Central African Broadcasting Station, there still remained the problem of reaching the Africans in the rural areas. Franklin realized that however much improved radio transmission and programme content might be, it would be of little value unless Africans became individual listeners. For most Africans in the 1940s, this was completely out of the question; the radios on the marked were far beyond their means and he was determined to find a solution to this problem.
‘We are convinced that before a large audience could be reached, the African must be able to listen in his own home. This meant finding a cheap dry battery receiver within the means of the African’s means to buy for use in the rural areas. (Franklin, 1949, p9)
Franklin and his staff aided by the BBC engineer, W.E.C. Varley conducted several experiments in the construction of a very cheap crystal set with earphones, but for various technical reasons, these did not seem promising. It was felt that for heavily populated areas, provided with electricity, the solution lay in installing wire broadcasting with loud-speakers; this form of diffusion was tried in Kawata, a municipal housing area for Africans in Lusaka. However, the difficulty of reaching the African population in the rural areas continued to bother Franklin until he and Varley drew up specifications for a radio receiver which was suitable for African conditions. He began a three year search in Britain and the dominions for a company that would be willing to produce a cheap, dry battery, shortwave radio receiver.
In 1948, his persistence payed off when the Ever Ready Company agreed to produce a set that was to bring the sound of radio to thousands of Africans in Northern Rhodesia. It was called the SAUCEPAN SPECIAL taking its name from its 9 inch, round aluminium casing which made it look like a saucepan. The metal casing of the radio was from a factory next door that made saucepans.
The ‘poor man’s’ radio as it is sometimes known, had four valves and could pick up stations in the three countries as well as Congo and the BBC. Even before the advent of the transistor, the ‘Saucepan Special’ made it possible for many poor people to own a radio set. The Northern Rhodesia Colonial Annual Report for 1949 states that:
‘The cheap dry sets not popularly known as the ‘Saucepan Special’, arrived in the territory towards the end of September. It was the end of October by the time the sets had been checked, trimmed and distributed over the country for sale at £6. 5s. od complete with battery. Sets were sent to Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia, and by the end of the year, it was known that the average rate of sales had been 425 a month.’ (Northern Rhodesia Colonial Annual Report, 1949, p63)
It will be recalled that since the 1930s, the Colonial Office had been ready to encourage colonial governments to develop local broadcasting services but it had been up to the colonies themselves to decide whether they would take up the challenge. In Northern Rhodesia, the development of colonial broadcasting was very much the result of initiative, ingenuity and personal enthusiasm. In the beginning there had been District Officers and the local amateur radio enthusiasts and now their experimental approach was being taken much further by the Information Department staff under its Director, Harry Franklin.
The golden years of African broadcasting in Northern Rhodesia came during the years 1948 and 1952. It was during this time that experiments on both the programme and the technical side were carried further than in any other African Colony. (Broadcasting in the African Colonies, BBC Quarterly, 6,4, 1951-1952, p217)
This period saw both the devising of mass education and entertainment programmes with strong audience appeal. This was complimented by a dramatic increase in the size of the audience as a result of the introduction of the Saucepan Special in October 1949. It was as if Franklin’s dream of a radio in every village in Northern Rhodesia was close to realization. The Saucepan Special cost £5 and the battery which lasted three hundred hours cost £1.5s. If this is contrasted with the £30 or £40 for the ordinary radio sets available in Northern Rhodesia at a time when only the Europeans could afford one, we can understand why there was so much excitement among Africans who, for the first time, were able to own their own radio sets.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, a provisional plan for programmes for the planned Broken Hill experiment had been worked out.
Half-way through the war, Franklin had tried to coat the pill of war propaganda and news with the sugar of music and an occasional instructional programme. In 1948, an experienced broadcasting officer was appointed to take charge of the Central African Broadcasting Station. Franklin wanted a man who could carry on with the experiment of using radio as a tool for mass education. Michael Kittermaster was well wualified for the job. He had worked for the South African Broadcasting Station in Johannesburg conducting programmes in South African languages, Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho and Setswana. He had a good knowledge of not only the language, but the music of the people. He studied sociology. What Kittermaster did not have were South African racial attitudes. He could not tolerate racial discrimination at Broadcasting House in Lusaka. Both the African and the European staff responded very enthusiastically to him; Peter Fraenkel who was a programme assistant under Kittermaster recalls that:
‘He carried around him a team among whom colour-discrimination was completely unknown. But more he seemed somehow unaware of the social pressures outside and all the things that were simply not done in Rhodesia as if haughtily absent minded.’ (Fraenkel, 1959, p23)
When he took over the running of the CABS, Kittermaster set about organizing the station in such a manner that radio should not merely be a vehicle for government handouts. He thought this would lose the station the confidence of the African people and fought hard to keep news bulletins independent. He insisted on the news being brief and simple and encouraged more local news.
In 1951, due to popular demand, the CABS started relaying BBC news which was not only appreciated by the educated but also by those who could barely understand English. The Northern Rhodesia Colonial Report (1951) put it this way:
‘Many new programmes were introduced during the year including a Sunday morning broadcast in English for the more educated Africans Listener Research revealed an increasing demand for the BBC news and talks. This is interesting since, although the Africans want such items, they do not fully understand them. The growing class of educated and politically minded Africans is using the radio increasingly as an educational medium. The power and value of the radio is indicated by the fact that about 5,000 Africans listen in to Lusaka daily throughout Central Africa. (Northern Rhodesia Colonial Report, 1951, p69)
By 1950, the CABS had a large audience and this inspired the Northern Rhodesia Information Department to launch a five-year multi-media campaign for mass education. The campaign concentrated on six areas which included improved hygiene, education for girls and better agriculture. Kittermaster was particularly keen to bring enlightenment to women in Northern Rhodesia. In 1950, he started a women’s programme and the first African woman announcer went on the air.
Entertainment programmes were designed to attract audiences for more notable political and development propaganda, but they also had conscious social purpose providing new forms of entertainment for a people whose life-style was undergoing rapid social change. The most popular was the request programme called ‘ZIMENE MWATIFUNSA’ which is still on the air today in all the seven languages broadcast on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).
Music was a mixture of traditional village music, which tended to be popular in the rural areas, and town music. Instructional programmes were usually of the form of plays to make them more palatable.
It was in the form of dramatization of information. Especially popular were plays improvised in the vernaculars by African announcers like MALIKOPO in Tonga and IFYABUKAYA in Bemba. Pioneering work on the programme side was guided by feedback from the audience through listener research.
The experimental work at the CABS soon attracted considerable attention and broadcasters came from as far away as the Polynesian Islands to study its techniques. Fraenkel notes:
‘True, the challenge of the CABS was immense and exciting, to bring education to seven million Africans by methods new, untried and experimental. There was no president we could follow. We were the first to try, and from as far away as Paris and the Polynesian Islands, broadcasters were coming to Lusaka to study our techniques.’ (Fraenkel, 1959, p26)
The Central African Broadcasting Station was visited by BBC personalities like talks producer Sylvia Hingley and John Grenfell-Williams, Head of the Colonial Service and author of the Unesco Survey, RADIO IN FUNDEMENTAL EDUCATION IN UNDEVELOPED AREAS, (Paris, 1950).
The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland came in 1953, and debate started to turn the station into a Federal Government responsibility. This was affected in 1958 when the Central African Broadcasting Service and the Federal Broadcasting Service were amalgamated to form the Federal Broadcasting Corporation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (FBCRN). Under this administration, the Central African Broadcasting Services continued to operate as an ‘African’ Station although its control was transferred to the headquarters of the Federal Broadcasting Corporation in Salisbury (now Harare).
After the dissolution of the Federation in 1963, Northern Rhodesia had again its own broadcasting service know as Northern Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation (NRBC). After independence in 1964, the NRBC was reconstituted Zambia Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). ZBC became Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS) in 1966. Ten years later, the Zambian government decided to turn it once more into a corporation so that it could generate its own funds and stand on its own feet instead of constantly depending on government subsidies. It became a corporation in 1988 (Kasoma, 1990, p46-47).
It is against this background that the next chapter examines the constraints facing the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) in carrying out its operations as a national broadcasting station. Particular reference will be made to its politics, finance, audience research and policy recommendations.
ZNBC STRUCTURE AND POLICY OBJECTIVES
The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), formerly a government department, became a statutory body on January 1st, 1988. At its inception back in 1964 as Zambia Broadcasting Services, its role was defined in traditional public service broadcasting terms as being to educate, inform and entertain, but it was clearly seen as an arm of the State’s information dissemination activities. On becoming a statutory body some element of independence was introduced although this related more to government fiscal policy rather than genuine concept of editorial independence. It was considered that ZNBC should be self financing. The government, however, also expected ZNBC to undertake a public service role very much as before and with similar levels of direct government involvement in editorial policy.
ZNBC is headed by a Director-General who is responsible to a nine member Board of Governors.
The Director General and the Board of Governors are appointed by Government after consultation with the regulatory authority. As owner of ZNBC, the government ensures that the selection criteria by which the nominated individuals are judged to encompass:
- business and commercial acumen
- knowledge of broadcasting and awareness of its importance in the overall national debate
- overall standing in the Zambian community
- representation across the range of legal political groupings
- representation across the range of religious groupings
- representation of women’s issues
- representation from the regions and main tribal groupings. (Coopers and Lybrand Report, 1993, p49).
The Director General administers the Corporation on a day to day basis through a Corporation Secretary, a Controller of Personnel and Training the Directors of Programmes, Engineering and Commercial (Advertising) and a Finance Manager. There is also a Regional Controller who has responsibility for all programme matters at the Regional station in Kitwe where he is based.
Since he is the most senior official at the station, he also has by administrative arrangement, responsibility for the entire regional station. He is therefore the chief executive at the Regional level.
Against this background, all Radio and Television in Zambia is government owned and operated as a semi-commercialized (parastatal) corporation solely owned by ZIMCO (Zambia Industrial Mining Corporation) which is totally owned by the government. Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation operates three radio channels; Radio Two (General Service) which broadcasts in English: Radio One (Home Service) which broadcasts in seven local languages and Radio Four a 19 hour commercial FM channel. All services are operated from the Corporation’s headquarters at the Mass Media Complex in Lusaka.
Radio schedules carry a complement of programmes which are by Government policy, expected to comprise 60 per cent music and 40 per cent speech. A government policy laid down by former president Kaunda at the June 30, 1975 United National Independence Party (UNIP) National Council in Lusaka, in a speech known as “The Watershed Speech,” defined the role of the press and set conditions of reference for the operation of the media and more specifically radio and television as follows;
‘Radio must continue disseminating information, providing entertainment and education in all its important aspects. Zambia Television (TVZ) must, apart from disseminating information, express in depth the various cultural aspects of this nation apart from entertainment. (Kaunda, quoted in Moore, 1992, p48)
It is for these reasons that the media in Kaunda’s one party state was subjected to complete control by his government. Media practice was guided by Kaunda’s philosophy of Humanism which placed man at the centre of all activity and, theoretically above all institutions. Humanism envisaged an egalitarian society where dignity of every individual was guaranteed without regard to social, class, creed and other distinctions. Since, at least at the level of rethoric, Humanism placed man above institutions and allowed him freedom of expression, the product of the electronic media in Zambia would presumably be seen to reflect the value
of man, egalitarianism, freedom of expression and the freedom to help individuals to develop their full potential. (Kantumoya, 1992, p7)
UNIP leaders, making the masses believe they subscribed to Libertarian principles, always claimed that the media were free from government control. But the reality showed UNIP’s theory of the press borrowing heavily from both the Authoritarian and Soviet Communist traditions. Kaunda often referred to the ‘animal’ in man, an instinct, no doubt, which must be controlled by the state or the party. Thus UNIP became the supreme institution in the land, above reproach and accountable to no-one. The party assumed a ‘vanguard’ status and became the ‘guiding light’ of the revolution.
With that in view, the party moved to place all the nation’s media under government ownership and control. Media control was centralized under NAMECO (the state owned National Media Corporation). The Zambia News Agency (ZANA) consolidated its role and became the sole recipient and distributor of foreign wire-copy; press accreditation was introduced as a way of licensing (and keeping track) or practicing journalists; most
government records were off-limits and information relating to government business was available only from officially designated ‘spokesmen’; media heads were appointed and dismissed by the head of state; radio and television remained exclusively in the hands of the state.
The media under the control of the ‘party and its government’, became an arm of the state, assisting the party to maintain legitimacy and social control. Under the one party system, it was assumed that the population is agreed on most of the issues. Therefore portraying critical views was counter-productive to the task of economic development. Those who exposed contrary views were termed saboteurs, dissidents and disgruntled elements. The media’s role was to expose these saboteurs.
A former Interim Chairman of the Labour Party, Neo Simutanyi (1992) notes that:
‘It was also common tendency to give coverage to important personages, such as the President, the Secretary-General, the Prime Minister, Members of the Central Committee, Ministers and Governors. This was done in a hierarchical order.’ (Simutanyi, 1992, p3)
Editorials were by and large supportive of government positions and critical of individuals and groups opposed to government. Moore (1992) also adds that:
‘It is popularly believed that often newscasts are censored by the Director-General himself, firstly in favour of the party and then the government.’ (Moore, 1992, p47)
Broadcasters worked under extreme pressure. Between June and September 1990, ZNBC omitted some of the major stories that were carried by the print media. The classic ones were as follows:
- A major rally in Lusaka favouring multi-party democracy in September, 1990 was attended by 70,000 people and was located next to ZNBC. The story received minimal coverage.
- ZNBC possibly manufactured technical faults to avoid airing a report on the inaugural meeting of the opposition Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD).
- The historic inauguration of Frederick Chiluba as President of Zambia after the MMD won the democratic 1991 general elections against UNIP was not covered by Television Zambia.
When the MMD swept into power on October 31, 1991, it took over the institutions that were state operated by the ousted UNIP on the platform of political ‘transparency’ and a return to pluralist democracy. Leaders were to be more than servants of the masses, acting on behalf of and with reference to them. The public has the right to know how their representatives are conducting public business, for in a democracy, public officials are accountable to the public. The media automatically becomes the ‘watch-dog’ on government and also becomes an open forum for expression of different ideas and viewpoints.
So far it can be said the new culture of openness is gradually taking hold, as can be seen from the frankness with which views are expressed on controversial issues discussed on ZNBC’s Radio and Television’s TOPIC Programme. One such programme was broadcast during the period April – June 1992 and featured members of the ruling Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) and two opposition parties, the United National Independence Party (UNIP) the Caucus for National Unity (CNU) a Human Rights Lawyer and an Independent observer on the Merits and Demerits of Pluralism .
However, the electronic media is still in government hands. What is more, there are increasing charges by the opposition parties that the media under the MMD government instructions to ignore or suppress opposition voices and, in response, the media in their reporting are heavily biased in favour of the MMD at the expense of the opposition. If this is true, it may well indicate a hangover from the old culture, the old system of patronage by which media heads were appointed, requiring in return a type of allegiance to the appointing authority.
The first Director-General of ZNBC in the MMD government, Dr. Manasseh Phiri was appointed after a public search process in which there were 17 applicants who were later short-listed to 8 in June , 1993. He took over from Dr. Steven Moyo who had served under UNIP’s one party state government. In the early ‘70s, Phiri was a news reader, disc-jockey and at the same time a medical student. Before taking up the position of Director-General, he was a Medical Superintendent of two main mine hospitals Nkana and Kitwe on the Copperbelt. The BBC report (1993) on Zambia notes:
‘He is a public health specialist and widely recognized to be very able manager as well as being a very good broadcaster. His appointment was widely seen as imaginative and innovative.’ (BBC on Zambia, 1993, p16)
Thus, Dr. Phiri was set to transform broadcasting into a much more interesting medium to listen to and much more viable business to manage than it had been before. The Head of the Audience and Research Department at the BBC, Dr. Graham Mytton, from a trip in Zambia in 1993 wrote the following:
‘Manasseh Phiri’s office is transformed. I have known six Directors of broadcasting in Zambia. They have all had their own qualities but good management was not really one of them. Their offices rarely showed evidence of being a centre of organization or power. The place now has a different air about it – from the Secretary’s business-like approach when I entered to arrangements of phones, books, files, etc. inside.’ (Mytton, 1993, p18)
When Dr. Phiri got the Director-Generalship, he wanted to establish a degree of independence and thus got assurances from both the Board and the Ministry of Information that he would have the independence from day-to-day interference from government. He got the assurance. But after just over two months in the job, he found that he had a big fight on his hands – or rather a series of inter-connected fights. One was concerned with the control of staff appointments and placements. The other was the carrying and transmission of religious programmes on both radio and television. Dr. Phiri had decided to shelve some of the religious programmes in the hope to forming a religious advisory committee which would advise and be responsible for their scheduling.
On August 26, Dr. Phiri was sacked and the announcement made by the Minister of Information, Dr. Remmy Mushota. The Minister had visited ZNBC the day before and Dr. Phiri had been his host. The visit had gone well. Mushota spoke to staff. He said his relationship with them would be an ‘arms length’ one. He supported their desire for independence and paid tribute to the management changes being brought in.
The next day, Dr. Phiri was summoned to the Ministry’s headquarters by the Permanent Secretary Josephine Mapoma who told him that the Board of Directors of ZNBC had been dissolved and that the best thing for him to do would be to resign. Dr. Phiri replied that he would not do this. They would have to sack him. He then left the Ministry to keep a long standing engagement to speak at a management seminar at Siavonga (a tourist lake resort) on ‘coping with stress’.
The official reason for his sacking, it was said, was that he should not have been appointed because he was not properly qualified, not having a degree in mass communication. The BBC (1993) report on Zambia observes:
‘The whole affair is desperately sad. It has infuriated a number of people. The United States Information Service (USIS) has cut off aid and assistance to any Ministry of Information project. The British Council and the Overseas Development Aid (ODA) may do the same. A lot of good things about to happen are now very unlikely.’ (BBC report, 1993, p24)
CURRENT FINANCIAL SITUATION
Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation came into existence as a statutory body on January 1, 1988, by an Act 16 or 1987. The Act enacted by the Parliament of Zambia provides for the establishment of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation;
‘to define the functions and powers of the corporation; to provide generally for the control and regulation of broadcasting and diffusion services; and to provide for matters connected with or incidential to the foregoing.’ (ZNBC ACT No. 16, 1987, p75.)
At the time of converting the then Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS) into a statutory body, it was thought that the Corporation could run as a commercially viable entity. However, it was deprived of the required capital structuring, which is fundamental to any business enterprise. It took over net assets of 29.585 million Kwacha based on the government valuation. (Confidential Report on ZNBC, 1993, p1)
A confidential report dated March 22, 1993 on the ‘Brief on the Current State of Affairs of the Corporation’ shows the Corporation’s financial insolvency in its financial structure. The monthly operational deficits incurred since April 1991 of approximately 500 million Kwacha have completely wiped out the small equity base of the Corporation.
The Confidential Report (1993) argues that there is meager investment in broadcasting related projects designed to improve the quality of programmes and quality of transmission. The inability of the Corporation to cover the most vital routine capital expenditure like audio and video tapes, furniture for newsroom, studio equipment and the Electronic News Gathering (ENG) cameras is affecting operational efficiency.
The transport situation is precarious. Most of the vehicles were purchased during 1988-89 and have exhausted their estimated useful life. Transport severely affects the news coverage, engineering maintenance tours and commercial activities.
The Confidential Report (1993) also states that the external auditors of the Corporation have expressed concern at the ‘going concern principle’ which envisages the continuity of business without financial assistance from the government.
The Corporation is also in no position to service borrowing from commercial banks, nor is it financially prudent to borrow due to the lack of capital structuring. (Confidential Report on Current State of Affairs of the Corporation, 1993, p1-2)
And the Coopers and Lybrand report (1993) adds:
‘Up until the end of the 1990/91 financial year ZNBC had managed to generate reasonable revenues and make modest profits and had therefore not required direct Government subvention. But in 1991/92, the Corporation made a loss of K139 million and the forecast loss 1992/93 was K685 million on a turnover of just K500 million. These losses have totally wiped out the equity base; the working capital position is extremely weak and there are US$1.5 million outstanding foreign exchange liabilities. It is expected that the auditors will qualify the accounts for 1992/93 in that ZNBC is no longer a going concern without the guarantee of Government support. (Coopers and Lybrand report, 1993, p26.)
It therefore follows that the present level of performance of ZNBC has been inhibited by a general lack of resources and an extremely weak economic position. At the time of publishing the Coopers and Lybrand Report (1993), the monthly costs of ZNBC were running at approximately K100 million as compared with advertising revenues of approximately K45 million. The government thus recognized the need for a subvention to bridge this gap and ensure that ZNBC could continue to operate and has, since March 1993, subvented ZNBC at the rate of K50 million per month.
The report shows K1.275 billion expenditure as against only K0.591 billion income, including the government subvention. It is a distorted balance sheet. Only K30 million is spent on programmes; K507 million is drained away by foreign exchange losses (because of the rapid fall in the value of the kwacha), K356 million on staff wages and K57 million on transport. (Coopers and Lybrand Report, 1993, p31)
The report also notes that the TV transmission network, especially outside Lusaka is in an appalling state. $0.8 million is need for its rehabilitation.
For example, drastically reduced power because of technical faults or missing parts means that there is greatly reduced coverage in many areas. Only a one kilometre transmission radius is possible in Mumbwa (west of Lusaka); and Mongu in the Western Province is radiating on only 60 watts instead of 1 KW.
As if this were not enough, ZNBC pays $30,000 per annum to CNN for the nightly use in news bulleting of excerpts from CNN’s satellite service. The Visnews contract has been cancelled. 70 per cent of all output is now imported at a cost of between $250 and $300 per hour. The main suppliers have been Paramount, WTN and Transworld TV. All have stopped their supply because of unpaid bills totaling $450,000 for programmes alone.
Such is the gloomy picture of the financial structure at ZNBC as at the Financial Year Ending March 1993.
RADIO AUDIENCE AND RESEARCH
Development of Research
A British Colonial Office Committee reported in 1943 that ‘there is no detailed and systematic evidence of the effects of different types of programmes upon the listeners’ (Great Britain, 1943, p38).
A decade later the situation in British Africa was much the same. Fraenkel in his report on effects research conducted for the Central Broadcasting Station in the early 1950s wrote:
‘On the whole vast continent of Africa no one was doing any research of this sort. Various governments and Colonial Offices were now starting to pour tens of thousands of pounds into new transmitters and studios, but nobody thought it worthwhile to spend a penny to find out what was understood.’ (Fraenkel, 1959, p142)
Since then, millions more have been poured into new broadcasting hardware in Africa; yet the situation with regard to research budgets remains much the same. Fraenkel’s research problem had nothing to do with today’s most common concerns – coverage, circulation, audience, demographics and programme preferences. Sales of the ‘Saucepan Special’ low cost battery radio and licensing records enable the tabulation of the audience as it grew. At that stage African radio set owners ‘thought themselves as an elite group, almost as an exclusive club,’ and they cooperated readily with researchers. (Fraenkel, 1959, p136)
Fraenkel concentrated on problems of programme intelligibility and recall: To what extent were useful messages in local languages actually getting across? How well were they remembered? When he found that ‘only a very small proportion of listeners had a proper grasp of what had been broadcast, he turned to the analysis of reasons for misunderstanding. (Fraenkel, 1959, p41)
One of the early insights derived from these investigations was the extent to which radio communication is culture bound. The Central African Broadcasting Station tried using public service announcements in the form of those proverbial sayings which are a characteristic of Central African speech. The statement “The fly, though small, is dangerous” failed completely to carry its message; instead African listeners interpreted it to mean, “Though the Europeans are few, yet they are powerful… we will never be able to drive them out of the country. (Fraenkel, 1959, p153)
A family serial based on the soap opera format likewise failed, for “no European could write such plays and make them sound plausible” (Fraenkel, 1959, p154)
Appreciation studies of the type Fraenkel used have obvious relevance to all forms of educational and information/guidance programming. Their equivalents are studies designed to pretest programme materials before investments are made in large-scale campaigns or the preparation of educational lessons. These and many other types of research, derive their special importance from their implications for the role of broadcasting in development. A UNESCO sponsored meeting of research experts concluded:
‘The mass media are an integral part of national development; indeed they have a leadership role to play in this field. Therefore the primary concern of the researcher for some time to come will be to relate communication to nation-building. Subjects to be taken up for continuing study will include: the promotion of national unity; the role of communication in developmental campaigns relating to agriculture, health education, family planning, adult literacy…Studies on the effectiveness of the media in relation to their full cost will….be crucial in guiding governments in the allocation of their communication services. Research is also essential to broaden the motivational base necessary for wider public participation in nation-building. (UNESCO, 1970b, p28)
In Zambia little research work has been done on the history of broadcasting. The first was in 1959 by Fraenkel and Matongo. Claypole and Daka (1993) note that:
‘This survey had a sample size of 200 and was confined in Lusaka. The results of this survey showed that about 90% of the people interviewed indicated that they had occasional access to a radio set..However, these findings could not be generalized nationwide.’ (Quoted in Global Audiences: Research for Worldwide Broadcasting, Mytton, 1993, p60)
In the mid 1960s, the only audience study at the disposal of the Zambia Broadcasting Services had been a conventional urban commercial survey made in 1965 for the station’s sales department by a South African market research firm.
In 1970 ZBS and the University of Zambia begun an ambitious three-year audience-research project to include a national survey of people I all parts of Zambia, both rural and urban. This represented an interesting carry over from the pioneer research work of the Central African Broadcasting Station (CABS) by Fraenkel.
In fact the University of Zambia studies actually followed the recommendations of Michael Kittermaster, the original director of the CABS. Kittermaster had left Lusaka after the Federation, but returned when Zambia became independent and was director of broadcasting until 1967 (Mytton, 1972, appl)
Special attention was paid to the problems of broadcasting in local vernaculars. Although only seven local languages are officially recognized and used in the primary schools, some 70 languages and dialects are in actual use. Some key findings of this research were that about a third of the sample owned radio sets and over half listened to ZBS. Over half the sample thought the radio did not produce enough Zambian music; that the most popular programmes, all in African languages, were a story telling programme, a question and answer programme dealing with personal problems, and record request programmes (Report on the National Mass Media Survey, 1972)
In 1986 the United States Information Agency commissioned RBL Overseas Ltd to carry out a sample survey into radio listenership in Zambia. The survey covered seven of the nine provinces. The Western and North-Western were excluded and the rural areas elsewhere were only partially surveyed. The sample was therefore not fully representative of the total population.
The UNESCO (1989) Interim Report argues that 50% of the sample had a set at home. Radio set ownership was more common in urban (68%) than in rural areas (38%). Moreover, three out of five rural set owners were at times unable to use their radios for want of batteries. Regular listening in urban areas (60%) was almost twice than in rural areas (31%) and that the main source of news were Zambian radio (40%), word of mouth (26%) and national newspapers (16%). Those with the highest level of formal education rely more on newspapers and foreign radio than on Zambian radio. People with formal education rely more on word of mouth.
The recent survey to date was done in 1991 by the ZNBC Research Unit. It was a national survey which attempted to establish the extent and characteristics of radio and television ownership, the listening and viewing habits of the Zambian audience with the aim of making effective decisions about programming and providing the Commercial Department with data to
assist in making decisions about advertising rates. Another objective was to discover audience views on various aspects of ZNBC’s broadcasts. (Mytton, 1993, p61)
Analysis showed that 82% of the 3,000 respondents drawn from all the provinces in Zambia listen to the radio at some time. Claypole and Daka (1993) note:
‘three-quarters (74%) of the sample listen to the radio at least once a week, and 63% listen to the radio everyday. Most people listen to the radio at home. Radio One and Two are heard by about two-fifths of the sample. Radio Four has a smaller audience because of its short-distance FM in towns only. 43% of urban respondents listen to Radio Four daily.’ (Quoted in Global Audiences: Research for Worldwide Broadcasting, Mytton, 1993, p63)
Topics of interest on the radio to the majority of the respondents indicated that they are interested in Zambian music, other African music and agricultural programmes. Claypole and Daka (1993) argue that Zambian music is of interest to all age groups and that African music especially Rhumba from Zaire and Mbaqanga from South Africa reduces with age and Highlife music from West Africa and south African Jazz increases with higher education level.
The other major interest, agriculture, is indicated across all age groups. However, the interest in it increases with age and reduces with education. Topics of interest in order of preference are as follows: Zambian Music, Other African Music, Agriculture, Relationships (men/women), Sport, AIDS, Learning English, Medicine/Health, Relationships (Generational), Political events in South Africa, European/American pop music, Science and Technology, Lives of Africans in Europe.’ (Quoted in Mytton, 1993, pp65-66)
For the ZNBC to exist as a viable entity and to be respected as Zambia’s national broadcasting organization, major changes will be required in a number of areas. The specific objectives of ZNBC need to be defined and made transparent; there needs to be overall supervision to ensure that the objectives are being met and ZNBC must undergo a process of change in order to meet those objectives. The Corporation should be streamlined to provide a more limited operation than it currently does at present more especially if the government is to reduce its level of subsidy. The Coopers and Lybrand Report (1993) proposes that:
- There be a drastic reduction of workers to an operational minimum
- The Kitwe studios be closed and sold to the private sector with only an OB/ENG and retransmission facility maintained in Kitwe plus an advertising sales office
- The costs associated with operating Radio One be transferred to the Zambia Information Service (Z.I.S) operating budget and that ZIS contract with ZNBC for the transmission and broadcast of Radio One programming. (Coopers and Lybrand Report, 1993, p35)
And the Strategic Review Workshop Report (1993) observes that:
- ZNBC should move away from medium wave broadcasting which is expensive to run and instead move to FM
- Move away from discs to digital (less expensive) systems, which incorporates continuity studios, production centres, etc.
- Improve quality of local productions
- Improve quality of products/services
- Increase radio and TV coverage area
- Formulate ZNBC Editorial Policy
- Carry out a training audit/review and formulate a training policy
- Train/orient staff in electronic media (in house and attachments in Zimbabwe or South Africa)
- Set up succession planning/human resource bank
- Review efficacy performance appraisal system
- Rehabilitate transport and equipment
- Reduce personnel, through natural wastage from 511 to 450 by December, 1994. Strategic Review Workshop Report, 1993, 1pp 1–5)
These are some of the remedial measures that should be put in place in order to improve the financial health of the ZNBC and to provide better broadcast services to Zambia.
In Northern Rhodesia, there are two factors that influenced the development of mass communication in general and broadcasting in particular; events on the Copperbelt and the Second World War.
The 1935 strike by the African Mine Workers on the Copperbelt and the fact that copper was important to the allied war effort, meant that the Copperbelt’s social problems would continue to engage the
administration’s attention and the media was brought in to assist. Another factor which played a major role in the development of the media in Northern Rhodesia was the special enthusiasm and talent shown by Kenneth Bradley and especially by his successor, Harry Franklin.
The new media provided the administration with new channels for reaching out to the African population. The colonial government officers had no longer to rely entirely on primary face-to-face communication. They now used the press – MUTENDE – and the radio to varying degrees, to explain and publicise government policies and also helped to create public opinion on various issues to garner public opinion in support of government policies. The new channels of information also gave the people new forms of entertainment, helped in adult education and worked towards adapting Africans to western technological society – with an unavoidable British bias. The projection of England predominated. The Imperial ties were being cemented and contributing to the success of the principal aim of British overseas information work: the maintenance of the British connection.
There is little doubt that the most effective medium for ‘socialising’ the Africans, after the advent of the Saucepan Special in the early 1950s, was the radio. The radio audience was treated to a wide variety of western and African culture with modern and traditional music, plays sometimes written or improved by Africans, political propaganda talks, news programmes and adult education programmes.
The white settler politicians agitated for the federation and finally got it. The main idea was to see to it that their dominant position should be made permanent and secure. The federation promoted racial segregation and racial hostilities became heated.
The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland lasted ten years. On December 31, 1963 it was dissolved, and on October 24, 1964, Northern Rhodesia became the independent state of Zambia within the British Commonwealth.
The broadcasting station was thus reconstituted as the Zambia Broadcasting Corporation and later Zambia Broadcasting Services in 1966 before becoming a corporation in 1988.
With a history of fifty years of broadcasting, Zambia is one of the more experienced countries in this field in Africa. It was one of the earliest to venture seriously into development broadcasting and to experiment widely in that area.
A number of specialized agencies and bilateral donor countries have, over the past two decades, invested heavily in broadcasting in Zambia, collaborating both with the national broadcasting organization and with various programme production agencies in training and other communication development activities.
The largest investor in broadcasting however, has been the government. Throughout four decades, it has provided most of the human, financial and other resources which have been required for the maintenance and operation of the broadcasting system. A major investment worth singling out was the $65 million which went into the creation of the Mass Media Complex, one of the most elaborate broadcasting facilities in Africa.
It would therefore be logical that with this fifty year background, broadcasting in Zambia today would be among the most developed and the most effective in Africa. This is however, not the case.
Sampling of radio and television programmes – the only products of the entire broadcasting effort – reveals mainly a diet of talks, formal discussions and unimaginative presentations except for a few. The quality of local programmes leaves much to be desired. This is mainly due to poorly maintained and outdated equipment and the difficulty of obtaining spares. In some cases, as the Cooper and Lybrand Report (1993) observes:
‘It is also due to a lack of sufficiently trained staff and in other instances, it is due to conflicting demands on equipment and resources.' ’Coopers and Lybrand Report, 1993, p27.)
The MMD Government is committed to a genuinely independent media sector that serves the needs and interests of Zambians. In this light, the role and responsibilities of ZNBC need to be redefined. This reappraisal should encompass not only the service that ZNBC provides and how this is undertaken, but also how the provision of the proposed service impacts on the public purse. Whilst ZNBC serves the needs of Zambia, it must also be borne in mind that, in so far as ZNBC cannot be self-financing, any subventions are ultimately borne by the Zambian taxpayer.
It is apparent going by the information and data gathered, that ZNBC is currently offering services that are below par. In the majority of its critical functions, performance levels require improvement.
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