Lusaka Businessman and Board Member of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Sipho Phiri has been dismissed from the board of IBA dor allegedly alarming the national by posting a tweet on social media claiming that the figures being released by the Government on COVID-19 are not a true reflection of the reality as no testing was being done.
Mr Phiri, whose Saturday 5th April 2020, the tweet was widely shared by many Zambias, including the opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema who agreed with him., claimed that Zambia has no new COVID-19 cases because it had run out of test kits and was not testing any cases
“Don’t be misled by anyone… there are no new cases in Zambia because we haven’t been testing!! Corona is moving.. we just can’t record it.” he tweeted
According to reports, Phiri appeared to have gone against a strong caution by IBA that condemned unethical reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic, where the institution called for objective, fair and responsible reporting on the pandemic.
The report further said that his tweet on testing caused alarm as many tweeter users asked him to provide evidence for such an alarming tweet, especially that he is considered to be a senior member of society and many people reminded Mr. Phiri that the process surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic was being monitored by many international partners and stakeholders and could not be faked or hidden. Other people called for his arrest if he failed to provide evidence and substantiate his wild and alarming claims.
But on Monday evening Mr. Phiri posted a message announcing his own dismissal from the IBA Board.
“Well that must have been the shortest appointment in the history of the Independent Broadcasting Authority!” “Fired after 2 Board meetings..maybe I was a bit TOO INDEPENDENT “ he tweeted. Must say though there are some excellent Board members & great staff at IBA. I wish them all the best.”
The IBA is responsible for regulating the broadcasting industry in Zambia, by ensuring the promotion of a pluralistic, ethical and diverse broadcasting industry.
The functions of the IBA include among others, to grant, renew, suspend and cancel radio and television broadcast licenses.