Media work is not a crime – MISA Zambia

Media work is not a crime – MISA Zambia

For Immediate Release                                                              Thursday, May 2, 2019.

MEDIA WORK IS NOT A CRIME – MISA ZAMBIA

 Lusaka – MiSA Zambia firmly condemns the recent attacks by affiliates of the Patriotic Front (PF) against media houses and workers.

The recent case is that of Chipata’s Radio Maria Zambia News Editor Tobias Daka who came under attack yesterday evening following a programme he anchored discussing the PF intra party elections currently taking place in Eastern Province featuring a PF member Maxon Nkhoma.

As Daka was leaving the studios to go home immediately after the programme, two vehicles came with PF cadres and officials at the station and in one of them were Zephaniah Mwale – Eastern Province Treasurer and his Youth counterpart William Phiri. They threatened him that they would kill him for allowing Nkhoma to talk on party matters.

These cadres also took a container from one of the vehicles containing a liquid which they threatened to burn the radio station with.

This is the second attack on the media within two days. On 30th April, 2019,  PF supporters in Kabwe stormed Power FM radio station at the time Dr Chishimba Kambwili was appearing on a live show dubbed” Power to the People” ten minutes into the programme. They stormed the studios and broke the stations chairs and window panes.

It is disheartening that these incidents have occurred in the week when we are supposed to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, which falls on 3rd May every year.

MISA Zambia is concerned about the concerted attacks on media by cadres and officials of the PF. We are of the view that these attacks that are obviously calculated to silence the media.

Daka, like any other journalist in Zambia, has a constitutionally guaranteed right to carry out his journalistic work freely and without interference from any quarters. This kind of hostility to Daka and the media in general is therefore an affront to article 20 of Zambia’s constitution.

These assaults on the media and journalists are creating unnecessary fear and anxiety among media practitioners, thus limiting the ability of the media to serve the society better. This is a major affront to democracy and freedom of expression in the country.

The harassment of journalists, regardless of the motivation, is a big dent on the country’s good standing as a beacon of democracy on the continent. A free and independent media is a key pillar of Zambia’s democratic standing.

This kind of action will cause Journalists to self-censor themselves out of fear and many even tend to believe they are under physical and digital government surveillance. Because of this the public will not be properly informed and the country’s real stories will not be told.

Zambia’s governance system is hinged on the principle of democracy where freedom of expression is critical to citizens’ participation in the country’s governance processes. It is in line with this principle that we are urging officials of the PF to cease the intolerance attitude towards divergent views and opinions.

We are urging President Edgar Lungu the Commander in Charge of the PF party to seriously look into this issue. We have observed for sometime now that the party leadership is mute on all this hooliganism against the journalists and other media workers. Why should PF cadres threaten to kill a journalist and set the radio station ablaze? Is the freedom of these party members to terrorise the media being sponsored by the party?

We call upon the Police to be proactive in such incidences as opposed to acting at a snail’s pace to effect arrests or effectively process such reports. They should firmly deal with these acts of lawlessness which pose a great risk to the lives of journalists and media workers.

Leaders of political parties should educate their supporters that their actions constitute a serious violation of journalists’ constitutional right to media freedom and citizens’ right to freedom of expression and access to information.

We also urge the media to remain professional and committed to promoting the public’s interest at all times.

 

Issued by

Hellen Mwale

Chairperson – MISA Zambia

About MISA Zambia

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia was founded in 1996. Its work focuses on promoting, and advocating for, the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.

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