Government says it has observed with great concern that a simple misunderstanding between the Patriotic Front Secretary General Davies Mwila and Prime TV Journalists is being used for political mileage by some opposition leaders.
Chief Government spokesperson Dora Siliya says the PF and its Government have championed freedom of the press and the right for Journalists to practice without fear or favour from its inception.
Ms. Siliya says it is for this reason that Government has made great progress in consultations with stakeholders over the Access to Information Bill in readiness for presentation to Parliament.
She said Government is also working very closely with media leaders to see the Media Council come into fruition with its greatest role being that of setting standards for Journalists and also to protect Journalists from those who may hinder their professional practice.
Ms. Siliya says the matter at hand which is an isolated incidence is merely a misunderstanding of which she believe will be resolved amicably.
She said Mr. Mwila is eager to meet with Prime TV to discuss the matter on Tuesday, once again displaying the PF leadership commitment to the media in Zambia.
Ms. Siliya said the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, remains charged and committed to the professional welfare of all media practitioners in Zambia in spite of which organisation they work for.
“You all recall that our Republican Constitution in Article 20 states:
“Except with his own consent, a person shall not be hindered in Protection of the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to impart and communicate ideas and information without interference, whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.” End of Quote.
“Therefore, I have heard the discourse going on, on different media platforms, concerning alleged harassment of journalists, and I decided to assure you that the Patriotic Front and indeed Government will not depart from the ideals of freedom of expression.”, she added.
And Yesterday Prime Media released the following letter to PF Secretary General
Prime Television Zambia
Off Great North Road
28th January 2019.
The Secretary General
Patriotic Front Secretariat
RE: BARRING OF PRIME TV FROM COVERING PF FUNCTIONS AND CHASING OF PRIME TV JOURNALIST.
The above captioned subject refers.
It is with a heavy heart that we write your office on a matter in which you publicly chased Prime TV journalists from your Press Conference on Saturday 26th January 2019 and later on, decisively, barred Prime Television from covering all your party functions.
As a broadcast institution registered to operate independently under the laws of Zambia, we find the idea to chase our journalists and the decisive submission to bar Prime Television from covering all PF functions unfortunate.
Given your Party Position as Secretary General,and Knowing that you come from the ruling party which should lead by example by following the law ,it is sad that you opted to ignore the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) complaints procedure, which requires that you tender a formal complaint to a broadcast institution ,which complaint is supposed to be addressed within 14days ,upon which you are free to bring it to the attention of the IBA after 14 days ,where you feel that that Broadcast institution has failed to adequately address your complaint.
The above procedure is a requirement for all those who feel aggrieved on a matter of broadcasting.
Unfortunately, you have opted to use a more unprocedural way which to us is unfortunate , undemocratic and totalitarian in that it may subject our journalists to unwarranted political attacks especially attacks from the Patriotic Front cadres.
It is our considered view that the approach you took is not only undemocratic, but is a serious indictment on the freedom of the media.
While you have the right not to be covered if you so wish, it is Prime TV’s policy to provide a platform for all political parties without bias.
We also wish to bring to your attention that Prime TV is a commercial Television station where all those wishing to have sponsored programs are free to come and have their programs paid for as many times as they can just like your party has previously on the same platform.
As you may have observed, many political parties have been sponsoring their press conferences to air and this is done in a business sense.
We wish to urge you to follow the law as you make further complaints of a coverage nature and those complaints should be in compliance with sections (33-38) of IBA Act 2002.
As a media house , we still hold you in high esteem and pray that this misunderstanding you have raised is resolved promptly in a formal and civil manner.
Prime TV Director
Cc: Minister -Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Cc: Director General, Independent Broadcasting Authority
Cc: MISA Zambia