The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia has warned information Minister Chishimba Kambwili to desist from terrorizing the media.
MISA Zambia Chairperson Hellen Mwale said in a statement released to the media that Mr Kambwili’s threats to revoke the broadcasting license for radio Phoenix amounts to violation of media freedom.
Ms Mwale said that it is the duty of the Independent Broadcasting to act with utmost independence and professional autonomy to review any such situations without undue influence over the process by the Minister himself.
Below is the Full Statement
MISA Zambia is displeased that the Minister entrusted with the affairs of the media in the country is the one taking the lead to harass and terrorize media houses.
The claims from the Minister of Information against Radio Phoenix that there is influence of the opposition at the station is testimony that the PF government does not want to be criticized and does not encourage space for participatory democracy.
The threats of withdrawal of the station’s operating license qualify as violation against media freedom as it is clear that the radio station is being targeted with special influence over the process by the Minister himself.
We believe it is the duty of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to act with utmost independence and professional autonomy to review any such situations without any undue influence from the powers such as the Minister of information and Broadcasting.
It is also saddening that it is the same Radio Phoenix whose nationwide license was withdrawn previously with the government claiming that such a license was a threat to national security and would further allow opposition leaders to continue featuring on the station’s programmes to attack government.
Democratic tenets dictate that there should be guarantee of media freedom with deliberate moves to ensure media diversity, pluralism and independence both editorially and operationally.
We also note with concern the growing trend of threats from the Chief Government Spokesperson against various media outlets and the media fraternity as a whole.
We wish to remind the minister of information that one of the duties of his portfolio is to help foster media development and diversity through the creation of a favourable environment for the media to flourish, as opposed to suppressing media outlets that are seen to be critical of government.
MISA wishes to reiterate that the media in Zambia does not need a terrorist for a minister but rather a person that understands and appreciates the role that the media plays.
Through his behavior, Mr. Kambwili has vindicated our statement earlier this year when we said he was a wrong man for the job. MISA Zambia is closely monitoring recent developments and engaging the parties involved for consensus building to help propel the media fraternity forward to reach greater heights.
We wish to warn Mr. Kambwili, who is also the Chief Government Spokesperson, to desist from terrorizing the media as his behavior is painting a bad picture of President Edgar Lungu’s leadership.
MISA Zambia Chairperson