By Hon Davies Mwila Patriotic Front Secretary General
We refer to the recent announcement by the Chief Government Spokesperson Hon. Dora Siliya; to the effect that the Government of the Republic of Zambia and its agents have ceased to cooperate with Prime Television station with immediate effect.
2. PF DISTINCTIVE RECORD IN PROMOTING A DIVERSE, PLURAL AND INDEPENDENT MEDIA
It is an indisputable fact that since Patriotic Front formed government in 2011 under the leadership of our founding father the late President Michael Chilufya Sata and his successor His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the private media space has expanded exponentially to unprecedented levels that the nation only previously dreamed of.
We are gratified that numerous private broadcast houses including Prime TV have been established, thrived and grown from strength to strength under the enabling environment fostered by the Patriotic Front Government.
The very existence of Prime TV which only came into existence when it was founded, and first broadcast in 2016 – after PF formed Government; and PF Government’s continued tolerance of its often unethically acrimonious anti-government content and routinely partisan programming, is a clear testimony of the practical commitment of the Patriotic Front Government to democracy- with its attendant principles freedom of speech and other virtues associated with pluralism.
3. MEDIA FREEDOM DOES NOT CONOTE DISCARDING MEDIA ETHICS, PATRIOTISMAND UBUNTU
Having said that, we will be the first to acknowledge that in a democratic society like ours, divergent ideas are the norm, and stakeholders are consequently not obliged to always agree with Government.
However, one doesn’t have to be disagreeable to disagree. Even in a pluralistic environment with divergent views, Patriotism, Truth, Decency, Mutual Respect and other core ethics should not be discarded or overlooked in the name of “Media Freedom”. This is especially so especially in circumstances where there are serious threats to Public Health and the overall security of our nation.
4. PF GOVERNMENT IS RESOLVED TO PROTECT CITIZENS FROM PUBLIC HEALTH HAZARDS
The Patriotic Front Government is uncompromising in its resolve to protect its citizens from public health hazards, and to minimize the danger and impact of acute public health events, such as COVID-19, which endanger the collective health of the Zambian population.
The war against COVID-19 is a battle being fought across various fronts using a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to which the media are pivotal.
We ALL have a role to play-since it is an undertaking that requires a collective effort. It is above partisan interests and self-seeking political agendas driven by a sadistic love of money.
5. WE WILL NOT ENGANGE WITH ANTI-SOCIAL SELF SEEKING PARTISAN ENTITIES WORKING AGAINST PUBLIC INTEREST
In light of the foregoing, we find the refusal by Prime TV Proprietor Mr. Gerald Shawa to cooperate with government in sensitising the Zambian public about the COVID-19 pandemic, to be not just unpatriotic, but inhuman and reprehensible as well.
We wonder whose interests the Station is serving, because his interests and those of the station as well as those of his cronies clearly do not serve the interests of the health and general well-being of the people of Zambia.
His related bragging and the way he boasted that government was only utilising his station because it had “a large audience” and not because government wanted to support his station financially, was similarly loaded with conceit and a misplaced air of self-importance.
It would be untenable for the PF and friends of the Party to continue to cooperate with anti-social entities that purposely act contrary to the best interest of the people of Zambia.
His misplaced belligerence therefore leaves us with no choice but to recommend that government’s cessation of cooperation with Prime TV be extended to friends of the Party. Further we wish to state that Prime TV shall NOT be invited to cover any of the PF events neither shall any of its members and officials feature on the station for programmes whether paid for or not until further notice.
6. A CALL TO MEDIA BODIES AND STAKEHOLDERS TO TAKE OBJECTIVE INTEREST IN PRIME TV’S PARTISAN INTRANSIGENCE ON A MATTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND GENERALLY UNETHICAL DISPOSITION
We further call upon media bodies and relevant stakeholders to take an objective interest in Prime TV’s entrenched unethical partisan position and their unfortunate intransigence to matters of public health. COVID-19 is a global pandemic that knows no political boundary.