MISA Zambia disappointed with spate of attacks on journalists during elections

A Luapula Community Radio reporter who was hit by a vehicle driven by a named traditional leader during the election campaigns in Mununga Ward of Chienge.
A Luapula Community Radio reporter who was hit by a vehicle driven by a named traditional leader during the election campaigns in Mununga Ward of Chienge

For Immediate Release                                                                                     

MISA Zambia is disappointed with the spate of acts of violence and intimidation against journalists in the course of their duty during the recent elections in Chilanga and Chiengi.

We are concerned with the floods of reports of journalists’ lives being threatened by political party supporters, intimidation from a traditional leader and from the Office of the President.

According to reports we have monitored, Luapula Community Radio has been receiving demands for copies of its programmes incessantly from the office of the President Special Division.

At the same time, a named traditional leader who was publicly campaigning for a certain political party in 2016 has continued to intimidate sections of his community and media workers whom he perceives to be against the political party of his preference.

We are further worried with reports that indicate that a journalist from Muvi TV Oscar Phiri was harassed in Chiengi by suspected Patriotic Front party supporters on 4th June 2018 in the same area.

Reports reaching us indicate that Mr Phiri was on 4th June, 2018 chased by some alleged PF cadres while executing his duties of informing the public on national matters in Chiengi.

The incident forced Mr Phiri to run for fear of being beaten. This amounts to media censorship as the journalist could not carry out his duty because his life was threatened.

Yet another sad report monitored by MISA Zambia is one that transpired in Chilanga where suspected United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres numbering over 20 attacked journalists who were headed for the totaling center a few minutes after midnight of 5th June 2018.

The journalists were on board The Mast vehicle which was intercepted by the said cadres who had an assortment of weapons and were using two vehicles. The cadres smashed the vehicle’s windscreen, demanded phones from the journalists and damaged a laptop of one journalist while one phone went missing during the incident.

The journalists who were fished out of the car by force were accused of having stolen votes while one cadre proposed that the journalists should be shot dead.

The journalists from various media houses were slapped with sticks and various weapons by the cadres while some journalists have suffered injuries as they tried to escape among them Oliver Chisenga.

The affected journalists include Oliver Chisenga, Melony Chisanga and Chambwa Moonga from The Mast, Tenson Mkhala from News Diggers, Wells Chifunda from Prime TV and Mr. Peter Lungu the Driver from The Mast Newspapers. Others were Mike Sichula from Radio Phoenix and Tobias Phiri also from The Mast.

MISA Zambia demands that these sad developments must stop henceforth. Further, we are planning to present petitions to the two concerned political parties to demand an apology and concrete action to curb these acts in future as this development is likely to repeat itself.

We wish to commend the police for being vigilant by carrying out patrols in Chilanga and thus safeguarded the lives of the journalists. However, we are concerned with the Office of the President Officers in Nchelenge who are intimidating Luapula Community Radio and we call on them to desist from such acts as the media is not mandated to report to them.

Further, MISA Zambia will be writing to the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs and the House of Chiefs to lodge a complaint and demand action to be taken on traditional leaders who interfere with work of the media due to their political inclinations or preference.

 

Issued by

Hyde Haguta

MISA Zambia Vice Chairperson

6 June 2018

Contact: info@misazambia.org.uk

Tel: 260 211 294285/6

Hotline: 260 956658531

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