The opposition NDC has charged that it is extremely regrettable that media freedom in Zambia under the PF administration is under intense and severe threat.
NDC Secretary General Mwenya Musenge stated that the political environment for journalists in Zambia is not conducive and slowly degenerating.
Mr Musenge said the media environment is becoming unsafe and increasingly hostile lately.
“The Edgar lungu regime will do everything possible to mime, gag, harras, manipulate and intimidate the private media. Media outlet’s that are featuring opposition political groupings have been misunderstood and are now targets of state manipulation and victimization,” Mr Musenge said.
He charged that private media outlets are now perceived enemies of the state.
“The PF regime is jittery over its growing unpopularity and will do anything possible to ensure that media outlets covering independent voices are ridiculed at every cost and opportunity. As NDC, we are disappointed that the PF regime has implored medieval tactics and attempts to try and manipulate and operations of private media houses. Furthermore, we find it absurd that this regime wants to fight proxy political battles using the media.”
He charged that uselesss, baseless and careless attempts by the PF regime to gag, harass, intimidate the private press in carrying out their duties are nothing but a violation of media rights and freedoms.
“As NDC we take strong exception to what has happened in luapula province today. The decision by state police to curtail a radio interview featuring NDC Consultant in Mansa is purely absurd and an act of desperation. Police in Mansa have not given an valid reason on why Dr. Kambwili’s interview on k FM was stopped.”
Mr Musenge said the only reason police have advanced is that the NDC had no police permit to warrant the sanctioning of the said radio interview.
“This is ridiculous, flimsy and nothing but an affront on media rights and freedoms. Journalists do not need permission from police for them to conduct interviews. Dr. Kambwili was on k FM radio to sale the ideologies of the NDC and nothing else.”
Mr Musenge observed that the Electoral Commission of Zambia ECZ has opened campaigns in 16 wards where local Government elections are being held countrywide.
“Since the political campaigns are open, there is no need for state police to harass Dr. Kambwili for offering a radio interview. Its unfortunate that the Lungu regime is going out of extremes to ensure that Dr. Kambwili is persecuted in every thing he is doing. As NDC, we want to warn the PF to leave out the private media in their political skirmishes.”
And MISA Zambia has reminded Police to Stop Intimidating the media.
MISA Zambia Chairperson Hellen Mwale has since condemned what she called overzealous police officers who raided KFM Radio Station and stopped a live paid for programme featuring NDC Consultant Chishima Kambwili.
“MISA Zambia still recalls that in August last year Police again summoned Muchinga FM station manager Martin Phiri for questioning after he featured Dr Chishimba Kambwili on the station’s popular Red Carpet. These acts are uncalled for and pure intimidation of both the media and citizens from expressing their views on issues affecting them,” Ms Mwale said.
“MISA Zambia is saddened that today at 11:49 hours, police forced their way into the on-air studio and fished out Dr Kambwili whom they led to their Station for questioning before releasing him. As MISA, we feel that, Police are now acting unilaterally and going overboard through acts which are not even done by bodies like the IBA who are mandated atleast to regulate the conduct of the broadcast houses,” she said.
Ms Mwale said It is disturbing that Police did not even indicate why they were stopping the programme nor explain whose instructions they were following when they stopped the programme.
“We therefore demand that government through its Ministry of Home Affairs should come out clear and clean as to whether the conduct of Police has its blessings. We say so because the PF government preaches a hands-off the media policy which is now being contradicted by the actions of Police which is rendering their utterances as mere rhetoric or political statements,” she said.
But Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo has advised MISA Zambia to take time to understand an issue before rushing to condemn the police.
“We wish to remind Misa Zambia that media freedom does not entail being disrespectful to people in authority and showering disparaging remarks on people in authority or any other person. Misa Zambia is rather too quick to condemn police action before fully understanding why the police acted in the manner they did. We advise Misa to first understand the issue at hand before commenting on an issue,” Ms Katongo said.
She said there has been a lot of people from different political parties both ruling and opposition who have been appearing on various programs and police have not stopped such program.
“The media also have ethics which should be observed by all media practitioners and have a responsibility to guide the interview,” she said.