INFORMATION and Broadcasting Services Minister Ronnie, Shikapwasha has appealed to media bodies not to demonstrate against the harassment of journalists by MMD cadres, as some politicians may take advantage and disturb the country’s peace.
The spokesperson for the media bodies Henry Kabwe, however, said journalists would proceed with their plan to petition President Rupiah Banda and would ensure that peace was not disrupted.
Lieutenant-General Shikapwasha said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the harassment of journalists was receiving due attention by the president and his ministry.
He said the media bodies could only send their letter of petition to the president without necessarily demonstrating.
Last week, MMD cadres beat up Times of Zambia senior reporter, Anthony Mulowa, photojournalist Richard Mulonga and Chibaula Silwamba from The Post newspapers.
“It is not necessary to demonstrate because the president has already spoken on the matter and the speaker of the National Assembly has instructed that I, as minister responsible issues a ministerial statement,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
“If journalists demonstrate, politicians and other people with wrong agendas may take advantage and cause problems,” he said.
Gen Shikapwasha said as much as it was a constitutional right for media bodies to hold peaceful demonstrations, the Government felt that an amicable solution could be found through dialogue.
“The media institutions have the right to speak out on many issues but we have to work together and find solutions to all the problems,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
On Sunday, media bodies said that they would petition President Banda on the continuous harassment of journalists by MMD cadres.
The bodies included the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zambia chapter, Press Association of Zambia, Zambia Union of Journalists and the Press Freedom Committee of The Post.
The rest are the Zambia Media Women Association , Zambia Union of Broadcasters and other Information Disseminators, PANOS Zambia and the Zambia Community Media Forum.
The organisations said they would this Friday march to State House and petition the president and ensure that action is taken against perpetrators of violence.
[Times of Zambia]