For Immediate Release Tuesday, May 21, 2019.
MEDIA NOT FIGHTING ANYBODY BUT FOR ITS SPACE – MISA ZAMBIA
MISA Zambia is exceptionally concerned by the escalation of attacks against journalists by political supporters.
The month of May, 2019 has demonstrated once again the toxic nature and outsized reach of political harassment against journalists, and we demand that it stop, and strongly urge the ruling Patriotic Front to take firm steps to ensure accountability for violence, threats and attacks against journalists, reversing and resisting the appalling trend of impunity.
As MISA Zambia we are grossly aggrieved by the persistent and systematic attacks –both verbal and physical to the media. Whenever the media brings out the short comings of our politicians they have rushed to heap the blame on the media, accusing the practitioners of doctoring the news to blackmail and cast them in bad light.
Latest in these episodes is the attack on Osward Yambani of Prime Television who was last evening verbally warned by Chipata Central Member of Parliament Moses Mawere through a phone conversation over a story that was aired on the main news of the television station.
The story was about residents complaining about the poor state of the roads in his constituency and that he was an absentee MP.
It seems Hon. Mawere who is also Youth, Sport and Child Development Minister is following in footsteps of an increasing number of our political leaders who regularly insult and threaten the media and accuse the media of biasness and being bought.
Hon. Mawere should know better that if people have concerns about published work or broadcast they are encouraged to use the complaints channels already in place. This includes the Independent Broadcasting Authority complaints procedure.
And if Hon. Mawere is aggrieved by the works of the media, he can also resort to courts of law for legal redress rather than threatening individual journalists and the media houses in general without singling out individual media houses or journalists, so that his plight can be heard in a court of competent jurisdiction.
MISA Zambia obviously accepts that politicians have a right to speak their mind and raise their concerns about the media and its perceived biasness, but we ask them to rather engage editors and media house that employ them.
Hon. Mawere should work to create an environment which promotes mutual cooperation rather than resort to confrontation and therefore abusing freedom of expression and the media.
The threats by Hon. Mawere cannot be taken lightly, given the fact that he is a cabinet minister who wields a lot of authority. Such statements are setting up over hooligans against media practitioners.
Mr. Mawere’s threats increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence and were designed to undermine confidence in reporting. We would therefore like to warn Mr Mawere to desist from this thuggery behaviour and instead deal with issues the people of Chipata Central are raising. He must also know that should anything happen to Mr Yambani, he will be to blame.
Attacks on journalists are an attack on freedom of speech and freedom of the press – pillars upon which any democracy must be built.
The attacks are a threat to democracy, raising the alarm over “a political philosophy that is emerging of scapegoating journalists.
We call on all politicians in the country to publicly affirm support for press freedom and journalists’ safety.
We are also asking for an apology from Mr Mawere to the individual journalist who have been targeted as well as to journalists in general, coupled with recognition of the constitutionally protected role played by journalists in our society.
And we also urge members of the media fraternity to be professional in their work, vigilant and work together in ensuring their safety and security. The managers and editors should work hand in hand with their reporters and media development organisation to advocate for a conducive and safe media environment.
Chairperson – MISA Zambia