PART 1

A GLIMPSE INTO A TV STATION WITH A REGIME CHANGE AGENDA.

By Wilfred Sameta

PROLOGUE-Humble Beginnings

The Suspension of the Prime TV license is a sad development that has been festering for some time.

Those of us who have followed this media house from the time it was born in 2013 took pride in its Zambian ownership and were very happy with their variety of programming with emphasis on local content including traditional and cultural content; and even my tribal mbuyas very silly but nice social commentary in the form of comedy by the Mazabuka boys and their muvela va mene ni fotokoza banter.

Prime TV signal at the time was generally poor and the news presentation was punctuated with poor grammar and misspellings in their graphics. But those were just teething problems and they began to improve even though they still have a lot of misspellings in their graphics.

On the news side of things, they introduced a fresh kind of programming from as far back as 2013 which included *Introspection*, *News Analysis*, *Prime TV Update* and *Oxygen of Democracy. programmes. Most of these were anchored by the Ayatollah- like bewhiskered Kasebamashila Kaseba, dressed in his signature African Print Shirts. The news analyses mostly ended up being critical of government.

At their inception, these programmes featured a variety of players across the political landscape, and although they were often highly critical of government, they were by and large within the minimal confines of acceptable journalism and were crucial to holding the governing powers accountable. However, as time went by, the criticism eventually swung to the extreme, and it became borderline partisan.

Around December 2016, with the rolling out of Top Star as the sole carrier of digital television in Zambia, Prime TV was included on this platform. And with the TV Station being added to the DSTV bouquet in the third quarter of 2017, not only did Prime TV picture and sound significantly improve to HD quality, but their increased viewership and advertising revenues also followed suit on the upward trajectory.(Sadly workers emoluments remained stunted).

AN INSIGHT INTO PRIME TV’S INTERNAL UN PROFESSIONALISM AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES FORMER STAFFER KASEBAMASHILA

It is very interesting that these other wise positive developments coincided with Prime TV surreptitiously parting company with Kasebashila Kaseba in unexplained circumstances. Whether this was by design or default is anybody’s guess.

Kaseba highlighted his displeasure with the stations lack of Human Resource Ethics on his face book page as per following extract:

  • “I have not featured on Prime Television for Introspection, News Analysis, Prime TV Update and Oxygen of Democracy programmes for the last four months since Friday, 17th August, 2018.”
  • “To that day, since the year review of December 2013, I had been on Prime TV for just four months below five years and on News Analysis since Tuesday, 05th April, 2016 among other programmes.”
  • “…I acknowledge receipt of the innumerable phone calls, social media comments, Prime TV questions, SMSs of solidarity or whereabouts and welfare.”
  • ” Sadly, I have received these questions without answer.”
    On the other hand, Prime TV, too, though duty bound to answer, has not just refused to answer the questions of my absence but also refused to explain the presence and performance appraisals of replacements.”
  • “Instead, Prime TV sought public sympathy and played victim of me.”
  • “For example, while I kept quiet and away from other media outlets, Prime TV in a matter of hours engaged my replacements or displacements for Introspection, News Analysis and Oxygen of Democracy, without my information and handover either as producer or presenter or news analyst.”
  • “In a sense, Prime TV eagerly befriended and overcompensated the new with fresh negotiations and estranged the old by stalling the negotiations with silent treatment and constructive dismissal.”
  • “The new were only not facilitated to succeed the old but also negotiated for the old or produced for the old. It seemed an offense and insubordination of the old to negotiate for self and negotiate for the new. The old was frustrated and punished even for negotiation or doing right whereas the new got rewarded even for wrong or underperformance. It also seemed long service was an offense.”
  • “Prime TV conducted a hostile takeover using divide and*_ _rule of the new against the old plus constructive dismissal that, exploited *unprofessionalism*, *desperation*, *opportunism* and *treachery by the new”.*
  • “For example, *there was unprofessionalism, desperation, opportunism and treachery of the part of the new* because despite being informed of the negotiation, the new deliberately ignored the negotiation in order to benefit from the stalled negotiation and the situation”
  • Otherwise, there were other Prime TV frustration and interference of the old. For example, on 27th January, 2017, analysis of five minutes was arbitrary cut to two minutes.”
  • “Again, at the start of 2018 there was another attempt to cut analysis from 10 to five minutes.”
  • “While there is no argument, not from me, who the proprietor of Prime TV is and Prime TV is a member of Media Owners Association, there is an argument, from Prime TV, as who is the producer and presenter of Introspection and News Analysis and *Prime TV has no labour union”.
  • In a normal situation, such arguments of interference and censorship are offenses just as the censorship by MOIBS and IBA.
  • Further, Prime TV does not believe in unionism, negotiation or separation by mutual consent.”

Mr. Kasebamashila gut wrenching choice of words describing his unceremonious severance from the Prime TV is very revealing of the inner going ons.

He says there was a *_”hostile takeover”_* of the current affairs programmes particularly News Analysis segment, Oxygen of Democracy and Introspection.

SIMUWE A PRIME TV MEMBER OF UPND MEDIA TEAM PUSHING FOR REGIME CHANGE

At the centre of the Hostile Takeover was Mark Simuwe- a personality known for his fierce anti-government style while he was a presenter on UNZA Radio’s Lusaka Star. Simuwe is a known active member of the United Party for National Development (UPND) Media Team, so his objectives and agenda are obvious.

While Kaseba often became vehement and emotional in his interaction with viewers who disagreed with his fierce criticism of the Government, the experienced journalist in him would periodically turn the spot light of his scathing analysis on the UPND and its leader as well as other political parties in a bid to balance his analyses.

Yet, although Kasebamashila is a fierce critic of the government, his Evelyn College old school journalism training and practise forbades him to abandon his professional ethics and unconditionally prostrate before HH to be used as a tool for civil disobedience and regime change.

However when Simuwe took over, he sold his soul to HH and he entered the fray like a new partisan sheriff on steroids, with guns blazing from his high horse; Shooting to kill anything PF no matter how good it was; while massaging and mitigating anything UPND no matter how gruesome or atrocious it was.

If Kasebamashila was a critic; then Simuwe lowered the the scale to sub levels of acceptable journalism right down to the gutter of hostile opportunistic and arrogant cynicism. They had sunk to the depths of yellow journalism.

Prime TV News Analysis became a segment of partisan journalism bent on stirring up anti-government sentiment and regime change.

While news is unpredictable because anything can happen at any time, Simuwes analyses and programme presentations where predictable for two things; firstly, his analyses would be boasful in the manner of an overzealous new-to-knowledge simpleton; secondly the PF government would always take a bashing and the UPND would get a spa-style massage.

Prime TV news and current affairs programmes became heavily opinionated in their delivery, and out right disparaging of the government in their content.

The Prime TV News broadcast of Saturday 9th February 2019 which has led to the suspension of their license for 30 days carried a sensational and inflammatory lead story _”ARMED STATE POLICE, PF CADRES CHASE OF HH IN THICK FOREST TOOK EIGHT HOURS”_ .

This distorted story- that was really a piece of dramatized fake news was cooked by Simuwe in the Prime TV News Room in conjunction with his colleagues in the UPND Media Team.

It was designed to stir up a revolt and civil disobedience against government.

Those of us with kith and kin in Sesheke actually received reports about a known Prime TV Camera man campaigning alongside HH whilst wearing regalia for UPND and filming at the same time. In fact Mr. HH was also directly involved as a producer as evidenced in part of the footage where he is heard and seen directing the cameraman regarding where to focus the camera.

This is highly irregular in journalism.

To apply Kasebamashila Kasebas phrase; there was unprofessionalism, desperation, opportunism and treachery of the part of the new(Simuwe and Prime TVs UPND linked news room).

All the adjectives that describe yellow journalism!

In Part 2 I share and reflect on how yellow journalism has landed Prime TV a K5,000,000 (Five million Kwacha) law suit.

 

The Author is a Retired Social Scientist turned Agrarian residing in Central Province

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Introspection, News Analysis, Prime TV Update and Oxygen of Democracy programmer are now far better presented and improved under Mark Simuwe ,Mcfarlane Muyanga and the new guy from Muvi TV Alexander Musokotwane.
    Mr Kasebamashila appeared to be a cheap and egoistic presenter

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    • Barack Obama and the Dems did not shut down Fox News because they understand that freedom of expression is paramount to development and that divergent views are necessary. But in Zambia, we have a backward government with backward institutions taking us backwards to the dark ages

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    • Opposition parties in Zambia have highly praised magufuli and kagame but little do they know that these two presidents have shut down all private media houses in their countries. Prome tv was not closed because its a private media but swaying away from the regulations.

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    • @obatala let people who dont resident in zambia tell about freedom of expression. You know nothing my friend. In Aussie freedom of expression comes with strick adherence to the law. In short you re obliged to conduct yourself within the confines of the law before you say anying. Dont be cheated by under5s who lives overseas.

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    • We will still get news online or YouTube.

      Freedom of expression can never stifled by any id1ots no matter how many tv stations PF closes

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    • OH YEAH? BRING IT ON. YEAH! THAT BOY MARK SIMUWE. I DON’T KNOW BUT EACH TIME I TUNED TO PRIME TV ON A NUMBER OF OCCASIONS I ENCOUNTERED THAT BOY, SIMUWE. NO WONDER.
      The writer is absolutely right at some point, this TV station sold its soul to spooky double h. We know that ZNBC is absolutely pro-Government. Not pro-PF but pro-Government. The deads picked up a Guinea Fowl (Balitola ikanga). Prime TV configured itself to be an opposite of ZNBC. They short down anything pro-Government and curtailed anything pro-PF. I wondered how on earth a TV station would discredit a national day of prayers. Then I began asking myself questions. They became an absolute TV version of Mmembe’s Lucifer’s file, the Post. I honestly also bemoan inhumane treatment of employees at the Station, typical double…

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    • @ Independent you are spot on. These iiddiioottss must know that without Prime TV there is no worthwhile news except cover ups, without news analysis there nothing to look forward to except just singing praises and mapwetete for the rats on ZNBC, without oxygen on democracy, all you get is stinking Co2 from other matuvi ZNBC. Some of the little dogs barking for the masquerades know little or nothing at all about freedom of expression. What you see on ZNBC is expression of someone’s freedom to deceive you. When is this generation wake up from its slumber?

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    • At Independent you are spot on. These iiddiioottss must know that without Prime TV there is no worthwhile news except cover ups, without news analysis there nothing to look forward to except just singing praises and mapwetete for the rats on ZNBC, without oxygen on democracy, all you get is stinking Co2 from other matuvi ZNBC. Some of the little dogs barking for the masquerades know little or nothing at all about freedom of expression. What you see on ZNBC is expression of someone’s freedom to deceive you. When is this generation wake up from its slumber? Do not block my voice fi LT, are you also bafoons?

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    • THis sounds like this Prime TV had really gone to the dogs. HH was director of News!!!!! How on earth can that happen? A camera person wearing party regalia?? Nikwisa? What journalism is that? Now I know why this station had to be banned for a month. Ethically speaking, if Prime TV wanted it could have come out in the open and identified itself as a propaganda wing of UPND. That way everyone would know that they are listening to the UPND’s publicity wing. But to masquerade as journalists is cheating. It is not allowed.
      I must differ with the writer who states that Kasebamashiba’s facebook accounts are very revealing. They are not. Why do Zambians like speaking in parables or saying things indirectly;
      What is the meaning of: The new were only not facilitated to succeed the old but…

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    • What is the meaning of: The new were only not facilitated to succeed the old but also negotiated for the old or produced for the old.??
      As a journalist you should just tell us who did what. After all you are reporting facts or isnt that so? Can journalists be a little bit more efficient with language than the common man in the street?

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    • Wind of change has started. It’s downhill for PF00Lish regime. The people are suffering & now fed up of PF poor governance.

      Muffling of media is a sign of frightened little men.
      However, we’ll never switch back to DeadNBC or Daily Mail even if u close Prime media or The Post newspaper.

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  2. But you are doing the very thing you are accusing primeTV of being. Onesided in your analysis. What about ZNBC and The Daily Nation. They are arguably equally as bad or even worse.

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  3. If TV programing and news coverage in particular is to measured against ZNBC, then Zambia is truly in trouble. If Prime TV was bad, then on that scale of bad, worse and worst, ZNBC and Daily Nation are way below the scale and make Prime News the Aljazeera of Zambia.

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    • HH was directing where to film when he was making a film to create lies about PF conducting violence in Sesheke while UPND beat up everything PF they came across.

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    • CORRECTION
      FOR ALONG TIME YOU GOT USED TO MARKING YOUR OWN HOMEWORK, SESHEKE IS THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

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  4. ZNBC may be biased in favour of government but it does not spread falsehoods which could eventually lead to civil strife. I repeat. …how can one secondary school employ 160 teachers who are all Tonga? According to Prime TV news last year these teachers were retired in National interest. It may look simple to some people, but to a Tonga somewhere in the Gwembe Valley this could be a serious development. To him this could be gospel truth and you can’t blame him. He will take it so seriously with great anger which may result in serious reaction. ..again don’t blame him, blame the media that fed him with such lies.

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  5. I am not so much of a TV news person so i actually don’t know what this is all about. but if its true that HH was even heard directing a camera what to show then that obviously is not acceptable. ZNBC is biased indeed but they report the truth, and nothing but the truth. they may not cover the good from the opposition and not cover the bad from the government but what they report is always true. if they error in their reporting they always apologize!!!

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    • Not true. DeadNBC reports propaganda. This means when the news is not the master’s menu they won’t report it. If you dont report an event because your boss wont like it you are as bad as the liar who reports what is not happening

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  6. This guy needs to look at the situation in USA. CNN is always seen as biased and opposing towards the Trump administration while FOX is seen as pro Trump. This is just a difference of opinions and ideas and not necessarily a crime. If Prime TV is advancing falsehood, it’s the duty of those with the truth to provide the truth and alternative news not closing down a TV station. Alternatively, if the falsehood being advanced borders on character defamation, the offended party has the right to sue the TV station so that the courts of law can determine compensations and penalties not closing the TV station. The author should not mislead the public regarding media freedom. Once you start intimidating the media, you’re basically a dictator afraid of being exposed.

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    • But CNN has never incited the public against the president let alone falsifying information. We all watch or read CNN so we all they are responsible news outlet.

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    • One example is that they haven’t refused to report that Mr Trump’s public opinion has taken an upward direction. Your PTV when a bridge collapses they will report it as a CHINESE BUILT and yet the bridge was built in the 1960s. You wonder who are there target since the local people know the history of that bridge.

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    • Then what is the work of the laws governing ethics in Journalism and licensing thereof?
      That is why UPND will never win a court case. They argue with tribalism in their heart, head and stomach.

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    • Yes CNN never reports falsehood. Fox is usually economic with the truth on many occasions. CNN upholds the rule of law like MSNBC. At fox you have folks who can take a bullet for Trump but one by one they are proven wrong by the Law. Fox supports white supremacists, while CNN and the other progressive media houses uphold non-bigotted sentiments. The US citizens are never told to rise against Trump. The law is just simply catching up even though we also have overzealous presenters Shawn Hannity and others who are darlings to Trump at fox. You analogy has just failed.

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    • The author is credible and collaborative unfortunately. He has given you a time line of wrongs trickling in Prime TV. The owner sold his soul to spooky double h.

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    • Not true. You say: CNN is always seen as biased and opposing towards the Trump administration while FOX is seen as pro Trump.
      Always seen by who? Some people might see CNN as such but then you must tell us who these are. You just can’t make a sweeping statement

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    • Spaka your problem is you shoot from the hip..! Example is the Mununshi bridge in Luapula. In fact the collapse has been a mixture. By the way Tazara which has more than 200 bridges was built by the Chinese, maybe you didn’t know.

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    • 6.7 Half baked Journalist
      Do you follow news here in the US closely?
      The fainthearted, Trump tribals get agitated when he (Donald) gets off the tracks by his mouth as CK begins to chuff his loyalists, get overboard and start threatening CNN with explosives. MSNBC, CNN, ABC, WAPO, NYT speak with the same voice condemning that businessman president Trump’s rhetoric as the white supremacist TV, Fox sings praises. Not all but there is a handful of presenters who inspire Trump’s racism and bigotry. Hannity gets wild to a point where you think he is actually inciting most trump bigoted supporters.

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    • Trump hates CNN, he speak ill of CNN, he recently had an altercation with CCN White House correspondent Jim Acosta to a point of barring him from working at the White House. A Judge intervened and reversed that ban. You ask who? Trump supporters of course. Tribals like you. Who went to threaten CNN with explosives? Trump supporters of course just like you the deads threatened to touch Daily Nation offices. You have to be regulated and properly checked. Folks like you and SIMUWE needs to be checked. The media has to be regulated. Prime needs to understand. Double h needs to be governed.

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  7. Tin pot wannabe dictator Lungu ,out to silence every critic …..it was stations like prime tv that led foreign countries to think Lungu and Zambia are democratic with a vibrant democracy

    …. good let Lungu shut them down it will be easier to show a budding dictatorship….

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  8. It is stations like prime tv that gave Lungu the legitimacy to be called ruling over a free democracy…..the western embacies saw such stations and concluded Lungu is democratic and continue to aid Zambia…..

    We hope the donner aid countries can see the truth behind a thin smoke screen of critical media they once grudgingly allowed

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  9. PF this bullying of media houses and people is going to be your downfall. These things are forever going to taint your image forever. We have a rogue government abusing power unchecked. No due process was followed in this case and considering how slow our government is, I don’t believe this organization came up this conclusion on their own, their findings coincidentally seem to align with Davies’s words. I believe this is the highest degree of abuse of power. We can’t have a party person just write a letter and a media house is shut down just like that. This government is becoming more oppressive

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  10. I see the PF has all of you in hoodwinked, after they close the only mouth that opposition parties can have because ZNBC is a PF mouthpiece anyway, you buy Sunday Chanda and Amos Chanda propaganda, why didnt they write this before PrimeTV was closed, they are citing issues as far back as 2016.

    Zambia shall be PFree one day

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  11. What is the meaning of: The new were only not facilitated to succeed the old but also negotiated for the old or produced for the old.
    As a journalist you should just tell us who did what. After all you are reporting facts or isnt that so? Can journalists be a little bit more efficient with language than the common man in the street?

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  12. Freedom must be balanced with responsibility.

    This is Africa where ethnicity is a serious leave.Leave those sick pipo at PTV alone and we will end up with another Rwanda.

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  13. Those having diarrhoea over the closure of prime TV, where were you when Prime TV was maligning people and spreading fake news, Why didn’t you advice them about their stupidity and be ethical in their reporting. Don’t cry over spilt milk. Your analysis of issues is foolish, don’t heap your foolishness on IBA, do you support what Prime TV has been doing. If war broke out where can you go with younger stinking mouth.

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  14. Comment:first it was post newspaper now prime TV, you can close all the TV stations if you want we now know your true colours but one thing you should keep in mind you will never i mean never close a voters card time will come

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  15. TV media like Banks are sensitive to National interests. Share Ownership therefore should be restricted to 25% for an individual. 100% means owner can influence information based on personal biases. This was evidenced in how the Post Newspaper was run. Ownership should incorporate the media association of zambia so the industry can regulate itself and also share in the money. ZNBC should be listed in the same vain with govt ownership limited to 20%

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  16. So this so called TV station was merely a trib.al TV Station? No wonder it’s down, what on earth do you think trib.al Hacks and his trib.als in upnd can ever do right?
    Looks like Prime TV was the source of fake news and research information for trib.al Jay Gay.

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  17. LUSAKA TIMES ONCE AGAIN BEING THE MOUTHPIECE OF SUPPRESSORS !!! YOU ARE NOT AN INDEPENDANT NEWS OUTLET YOU HAVE BEEN BOUGHT BY PF !

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  18. I have read this (sorry) jaundiced analysis which relied on my criticism to criticise me than use my criticism to right the highlighted wrongs as well as concede the mistakes of IBA.

    Firstly, the role of IBA is to protect the public and employees (including myself) than protect PF. Read the 1996 constitution before you refine or amend or whatever you seek to do. IBA is called Independent, that is, Independent of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services (MOIBS) when today MOIBS PS is the one chairing IBA and suspending Prime Tv. And that is professional.

    The three times that Prime Tv has severely come under such attack has been because of Kampamba Mulenga even as MOIBS, Jean Kapata as Minister of Lands and Davies Mwila as PF Secretary General.

    Prime Tv reporters have…

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  19. Prime Tv reporters have been beaten and Mark Simuuwe has been abducted and guests harassed. I and my family have been threatened. This, you and IBA will ignore. Prime Tv and I have endured the nonsensical harassment or accusations by PF cadres of being UPND sponsored and cadre. In such a time, MMD also accused me of being a PF cadre. In PF, professional journalists are called party cadres whereas party cadres, like Chanda Kasolo, are professional journalists. You are just fooling yourselves.

    Whatever I have done I have publicly done on tv without hiding anything unlike the PF abusing the IBA Act when it is the PF that even promised to abolish the ZNBC TV levy and to privatise or liberalise ZNBC.

    IBA is an MMD law that was formulated with the help of the private media and for a…

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