Allow media to carry out its mandate- Mwale

Allow media to carry out its mandate- Mwale

MISA Zambia Chairperson, Hellen Mwale says the media should be given sufficient leverage to carry out their role which is to educate, inform as well as to entertain the public.

Reacting to reports that PASME FM in Petauke District has been closed by order of the Petauke District Commissioner (DC) for airing a radio programme featuring an opposition political party leader, Mwale says MISA Zambia finds the DC’s actions not only primitive but an assault and an affront to democracy and the right to citizens to fully express themselves through their freedom of expression and hinders the ability of citizens to freely access information without intimidation whatsoever.

“The report indicates that the Petauke District Commissioner, Ms Velenasi Moyo went to PASME FM yesterday evening and stopped the broadcast of a paid-for recorded radio programme featuring the United Party for National Development (UPND)”, she explained.

The District Commissioner cited the lack of a police permit from the station before featuring any opposition political party on radio and later called officers from the Zambia Police Service to close the station until further notice.

We wish to remind the District commissioner that the Independent Broadcasting Authority is the only institution that is mandated by law to regulate media stations as outlined in the IBA Act following the abrogation of laid down procedures and code of ethics. The IBA also has a complaints channel and procedure that the District Commissioner should follow if at all she strongly feels that the station erred in any way” she says.

Mwale says that MISA Zambia remains committed to ensuring and advocating for the media which enjoys free expression, independent from political, economic and commercial interests, pluralism of views and opinions.

MISA Zambia further calls on all public office bearers to always remain professional and operate within their jurisdiction and confines of the law and not use emotions when carrying out their work and violate Constitutionally provided for rights. Public office servitude should be for the benefit of all Zambians and not a select few from a given political party.

Find below MISA Zambia statement;

ALLOW MEDIA TO CARRY OUT ITS MANDATE

LUSAKA – MISA Zambia has received with great disappointment the reports that PASME FM in Petauke District has been closed by order of the District Commissioner in Petauke for airing a radio programme featuring an opposition political party leader.

The report indicates that the Petauke District Commissioner, Ms Velenasi Moyo went to PASME FM yesterday evening and stopped the broadcast of a paid-for recorded radio programme featuring the United Party for National Development (UPND).
The District Commissioner cited the lack of a police permit from the station before featuring any opposition political party on radio and later called officers from the Zambia Police Service to close the station until further notice.

MISA Zambia finds this senseless act by the District Commissioner not only primitive but an assault and an affront to democracy and the right to citizens to fully express themselves through their freedom of expression and hinders the ability of citizens to freely access information without intimidation whatsoever. The role of the media remains to educate, inform as well as to entertain and it should be given sufficient leverage to do so.

We wish to remind the District commissioner that the Independent Broadcasting Authority is the only institution that is mandated by law to regulate media stations as outlined in the IBA Act following the abrogation of laid down procedures and code of ethics. The IBA also has a complaints channel and procedure that the District Commissioner should follow if at all she strongly feels that the station erred in any way.

MISA Zambia remains committed to ensuring and advocating for the media which enjoys free expression, independent from political, economic and commercial interests, pluralism of views and opinions.

There has been a number of attacks on media houses especially radio stations by Patriotic Front (PF) cadres for featuring opposition political parties on radio programmes with the recent one being Mafken Radio, where the UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema Hichilema was being interviewed.

In May this year, ruling party cadres violently invaded Isoka Community Radio Station and Muchinga FM and disrupted a programme featuring Hakainde Hichilema. In March last year, PF supporters blocked Democratic Party President Harry Kalaba from entering Radio Chengelo where he was scheduled to have an interview.

We wish to state therefore that we shall proceed to take legal action on behalf of PASME FM and the rest of well-meaning Zambians against Ms Velenasi Moyo for illegally ordering the closure of the radio station. We will further write to the Patriotic Front Secretary General through its secretariat to put its house in order and encourage its members to exhibit its party manifesto and beliefs as well as acceptable conduct.

MISA Zambia further calls on all public office bearers to always remain professional and operate within their jurisdiction and confines of the law and not use emotions when carrying out their work and violate Constitutionally provided for rights. Public office servitude should be for the benefit of all Zambians and not a select few from a given political party.

Hellen Mwale
MISA Zambia Chairperson

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.