THE APPOINTMENT OF MR. ANTHONY BWALYA AS STATE HOUSE SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS IS WELCOME
“The Appointment of Mr. Anthony Bwalya as State House Special Assistant for Press And Public Relations is welcome”
By Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba – Speaking as a Journalist
From the outset, let me state that the Appointment of Mr. Anthony Bwalya as State House Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations or as Official Spokesperson is welcome and will help foster sound debate from the presidency.
However, his appointment has brought three key issues.
1. Is Anthony qualified for the job?
2. Why did President Hakainde Hichilema overlook the journalism, media or communication fraternity to make this appointment?
3. Does the job of a Spokesperson require a journalist?
It has generally been agreed that since we read Anthony Bwalya’s analytical articles of current issues when he aspired for Kabushi Constituency, and since we heard him on Radio and watched him on television, we found him to be an effective communicator, a deep analyst possessing understanding of a wide-range of issues.
When President Hakainde Hichilema appointed him as Presidential Spokesperson in December 2020, we quickly found that Anthony was an eloquent speaker and was passionate and enthusiastic about his job.
At this stage no one wondered or requested his qualifications because he delivered in his role in a very excellent manner.
Anthony was credible, factual and his public arguments were mostly issue based.
The same may not be said about his peers in the fraternity who relied more heavily on propaganda than advancing sound and rational arguments for their parties.
SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
Over the last 57years, this role has traditionally been held by a journalist trained from Evelyn Hone College or the University of Zambia.
There have been rare cases where a non-journalist held this position.
Similarly, Vernon Johnson Mwaanga, a diplomat and former Director of Intelligence became Managing Director for the Times of Zambia, while engineers and a medical doctor have been at the helm of the public broadcaster, ZNBC.
IS JOURNALISM INADEQUATE FOR SUCH ROLES
To contrast this appointment, some commentators have expressed doubt about the competence of journalists.
Others have stated that to qualify for such a job, a journalist may need further training or another discipline.
This is unfortunate.
Let me hasten to say that the role of a journalist is not just to write stories. It’s far broader than that.
Therefore the ridicule about the profession is not necessary and is merely antagonistic.
If there are standards failures for journalists, the debate should be held outside this well deserved appointment.
Journalism is a complete, adequate and respected profession and may need no augmentation or supplement for a practioner to excel.
The training of a journalist involves a scope of elements from other disciplines such as law, psychology, economics, politics, business, advertising and marketing, and information technology.
The training further equips a journalist with all aspects of media, old and new, traditional and digital media.
Although a journalist is primarily a communicator, he/she is equipped with basic understanding of the complex environment and ecosystem around him or her.
Since the media is at the centre of national activities from industries, various sectors and policy-makers, journalists ought to be accomplished in their work to communicate effectively to the masses.
It is for this reason that in governance, it is held as the Fourth Estate after Executive, Judiciary and the Legislatute.
Therefore, a journalist is well suited to be hired for any communication, media, public relations, and advertising role.
May I reiterate that a journalist is competent and complete in his/her training.
However, like any other profession, any further education to his or her primary training, equips and gives such a journalist advantage for job opportunities against other peers.
Similarly many business, accounting and other professional courses recognise the roles that these graduates will play in their lifetime in the industry and therefore include English and Communication subjects (whether business, or other types of communication) in the courses.
So a person that has graduated with a business degree or diploma, is also a potential effective communicator and Spokesperson.
Anthony is a graduate from the Business School of the Copperbelt University.
To this end, besides the depth and understanding to communicate political, ethical and economical ideas of both the UPND and Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, Anthony has demonstrated that he is well suited for this new role.
Besides the Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations has a Deputy, a Chief Analyst for Press and Public Relations, who is usually a journalist, to support the office.
Anthony has broken new ground and he requires our support from the fraternity to accomplish this important national task.
Congratulations to Anthony for this well-deserved appointment and we know from his past successes, that he will serve the Presidency well.