Visiting US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas Greenfield says the US Government will continue commenting on matters happening in Zambia as long as they concern that country.
Ms. Greenfield told a media briefing at the US Embassy in Zambia that the US Government has strong interest in Zambia as it seeks to protect the country’s democratic gains.
Ms. Greenfield is President Barack Obama’s principle adviser on African affairs.
“We cannot be stopped from commenting on issues that are of concern to us… The arrest and beating of The Post owner, his wife and The Post deputy managing editor is an assault on press freedom” said Ms. Greenfield.
“Freedom of the press is a key component of democracy and it is important for your elections,” she said during a public discussion on political violence ahead of the August 11 general election.
“I am not arguing that the Post should not pay the fee, what I am arguing is that efforts should be made to work it out so that you can continue to have the benefits of an independent state,” she said.
Ms. Greenfield reiterated the US Government’s call for the reopening of the Post Newspapers.
She said the closure of the Post is a loss of an independent voice during the campaign period and the election cycle.
“The US Government urges the Zambian Government to work with the Zambian Revenue Authority and the Post to find a way forward that allows the Post to begin to pay its back taxes, so we are not supporting the Post not paying its taxes but also allow the Post which is a voice, an independent voice to immediately resume reporting. The beating of the Post owner and the wife and the Deputy Managing Editor and indeed the beating and harassing of any member of the press is a direct assault of press freedom,” she said.
She added, “We would like to see Zambia play a greater role in the region but the country’s reputation is on the line during this pre-election period and on August 11. The August 11 elections must be free and fair, transparent, credible and more than anything peaceful.”
“The goals of my visit to Zambia is to urge political leaders to stress that the elections must be peaceful with Zambia’s leading political candidates, the visit was to stress the importance of credible and peaceful elections and I would like to make that statement stronger here with the press that no individual should be allowed to be used for political purposes and commit violent acts against the people of Zambia.”
Police in Lusaka yesterday formerly charged and arrested The Post Newspapers editor -in-chief Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta and his deputy managing editor Joseph Mwenda for uttering a false document.
Police deputy spokesperson Rae Hamoonga in a statement stated that the trio had also been arrested for breaking into a building with intent to commit a felony contrary to section 304 of the penal code.
“Police in Lusaka have formerly charged and arrested Mr. Fred M’membe, his wife Mutinta Mazoka M’membe and Mr Joseph Mwenda for Breaking into a building with intent to commit a felony Contrary to Section 304 of the Penal Code Act, criminal trespass Contrary to Section 306(a) of the Penal Code Act and uttering a false document Contrary to Section 352 of the Penal Code Act,” Mr. Hamoonga stated.
He stated that the trio have been released on police bond and were scheduled to appear in court next week on Thursday.