The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia has condemned the police command in Eastern Province for interfering with the operations of radio stations in the province by directing them to seek police clearance whenever they intend to host high profile guests on radio.
MISA has obtained a letter in which the order was made by Eastern Province Police Commissioner, Alex Chilufya, to various radio stations in Chipata.
We wish to inform the Police command that such a directive amounts to an unreasonable and unconstitutional limitation of freedom of expression and media freedom as guaranteed in article 20 of the constitution.
We would also like to take this opportunity to educate the Police command on the role of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, which is the bonafide regulator of broadcasting houses in Zambia and has authority to preside over the conduct of broadcasters, including radio stations in Chipata where the order was issued.
As the radio programmes are held in-doors and only broadcast to the masses, there is no need for police clearance as it is within the right of the radio stations to host any guest, provided they do not contravene the ethical standards as agreed with the IBA, which take into consideration even other provisions such as the electoral code of conduct.
We therefore call on the Police to immediately desist from interfering in the operations of media houses and instead be proactive enough to thwart the increasing attacks on media houses such as that on Radio Breeze FM during a live broadcast when they hosted Rainbow Party leader Wynter Kabimba. Another incident is where known PF cadres urinated in the mouth of a Post Newspaper journalist Peter Sukwa while his counterpart Kelvin Phiri of Feel Free Radio was badly assaulted.. Other attacks include those on Radio Icengelo in Kitwe, Sun FM in Ndola and Chikaya Lundazi.
We urge all media houses and journalists in Chipata that received the directive from Commissioner Chilufya not to be intimidated and to continue providing space for participatory democracy without any fear or favour.
As we get closer to the August 11 elections, it is important for all stakeholders adhere to democratic election principles and to desist from violence if the country is to hold free and fair elections.