The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter has received with concern the report of a brutal attack on a New Vision Newspaper Journalist Elijah Mumba by a named UPND cadre in Chainda on Wednesday.
It is disheartening that Police clearly showed lack of will to act despite the dire condition in which Elijah was, bleeding profusely after being hit with a brick on the head forcing onlookers to come to his rescue.
The incident adds to the long list of brutal attacks against journalists during the election period in which Police have acted at a snail’s pace to effect arrests or effectively process such reports.
MISA strongly cautions the Zambia Police service to act in a professional manner and not contribute to the erosion of the little faith Zambians still have in the Police service.
We also challenge Police inspector-general, Kakoma Kanganja to immediately institute disciplinary measures against the negligence displayed by the Police officers at the Police post in Chainda where the matter was reported by Mumba as he bled profusely.
We call on journalists at the New Vision Newspaper and other media outlets to remain steadfast and not to be discouraged as the role of journalists is crucial at such a time when the national goes to the polls.
MISA has since engaged the New Vision Newspaper and will announce the way forward as will be agreed with the newspaper in order to deter would be offenders.
Journalists should be left to perform their duty of informing the public without such draconian hindrances as the political violence witnessed in a country that claims to espouse the values of democracy.
Similarly, journalists must conduct themselves above board to ensure their credibility and objectivity do not come into question as this is critical to fulfilling their role in society.
May we reiterate that the classification of an election as being free and fair also depends on the level of media freedom and freedom of expression which are currently under threat in Zambia as evidenced by the restriction of fundamental freedoms, closure of newspapers seen to be critical of the state, abuse of the public media, persecution of journalists and political violence to mention a few activities as documented by MISA.
The institution has since alerted several election observer missions over this imminent threat to the holding of a free and fair election.