Don’t intimidate messengers and chroniclers of events – MISA Zambia
For Immediate Release Thursday, February 21, 2019.
LUSAKA – MISA Zambia is gravely alarmed over a developing trend by political party officials and some citizens to gag or threaten the media over coverage of the current political and social events in the country.
We have learnt with sadness calls by the Patriotic Front Central Committee Member Kebby Mbewe to have the Independent Broadcasting Authority Board disbanded for what he called failure to regulate irresponsible media houses.
Mr. Mbewe is quoted in the Daily Nation Newspaper of 21st February, 2019 as having said that there was a TV station which is being used as a platform to insult President Edgar Lungu and government on a daily basis, as well as perpetuating hatred among the Zambian people and yet nothing is being done against them.
We would like to remind Mr. Mbewe that as a senior PF party official, he should know well that there is a well-documented broadcast complaints procedure. In case he is not aware or he has forgotten, the procedure states that when a member of the public has a complaint against a station, that person must: write to the station stating what grievances they have against the broadcast.
Upon communicating with the station, it is expected that the station will respond to the complainant within fourteen (14) days and where the person has not received a response or has received a response within fourteen days, but considers the response to be inadequate; that person may escalate the complaint to the IBA for further action.
Mr. Mbewe should know that IBA acts on the basis of a complaint.
We equally condemn the threats by Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela’s suspected sympathisers to petro-bomb News Diggers offices in Lusaka if they continued to write editorial comments on corruption trail exposé which has been slapped on the minister.
MISA Zambia would like to remind Mr. Mbewe and Mr. Chitotela’s suspected sympathisers that the media is one of the channels through which democracy is exercised and therefore, the media should be given enough space within which to operate freely without fear.
These kinds of unashamed threats are intended to intimidate the media from performing its rightful role of informing the public on matters affecting them.
We would like to state it with all the clarity we can that the media is not an actor in all these gymnastics. The Media remains a mere messenger and a chronicler of any events happening in our country. Our country’s vibrant media is made up of competent professionals in journalists and editors that continue to make sound decisions on what constitutes news, in public interest.
We again call on all media houses and journalists to carry on their work diligently and to report impartially on all matters of public interest as they have always done.
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.