Copperbelt Province Minister Japhen Mwakalombe is allegedly threatening ZNBC Reporters accusing the state broadcaster of blacking him out.
Mr Mwakalombe is reported to have verbally threatened some junior and senior Journalists at ZNBC with unspecified action for not airing his stories.
According to some Journalists at both the Kitwe and Lusaka studios, the Chongwe Member of Parliament claims there is a ploy to make him unpopular by not covering his stories.
The Journalists who sought anonymity for fear of victimization revealed that Mr Mwakalombe has now instructed ZNBC Kitwe Studios to be calling his office in Ndola every day to get his “diary’.
“Basically what is happening is that the Minister is upset that we are blacking him out. He called last week and blasted at our bosses saying he will deal with us. He has since told our bosses to be checking his office every morning to find out what the Minister will be doing for that day so that he is assured of coverage,” one of the Reporters complained.
The Reporters stated that Mr Mwakalombe accused ZNBC of having certain Ministers which he feels the state broadcaster prefers to cover, leaving him out.
“Somehow the Minister feels we are covering some Ministers such as Bowman Lusambo more prominently than him. This is the source of this confusion, he feels Bowman (Lusambo) is better covered than him and he now wants us to focus our cameras on him so that he can compete with the Lusaka Minister in terms of coverage, this has made our work easier,” another Kitwe based Journalist complained.
Another Journalist disclosed that the complaint regarding Mr Mwakalombe’s harassment has been reported to Director General Richards Mwanza.
“We have ended up reporting to the D.G for protection because we don’t know what the Minister is plotting against us. We hope our D.G will engage the Minister in order to understand how news is compiled. We can’t just get everything that the Copperbelt Minister does even if it is not news.”
The Reporters also advised Mr Mwakalombe to invest in good working relationship with the media.
“The problem with the Minister is that he only prefers moving around with ZANIS and if ZANIS sends us stories, sometimes we don’t use them. He needs to learn from Bowman Lusambo who works well with all Journalists both from public and private media. Even when he was in opposition or during his Die Hard days, the media still covered Bowman because he knows how to create a good working relationship with them and Mr Mwakalombe should just learn from him and not threaten us. We need to keep our jobs.” The Reporter added.