Media bodies in Zambia have condemned Petauke District Commissioner Velenasi Moyo for illegally ordering the closure of privately owned PASME radio station.
Mr. Moyo in the Company of Police Officers is reported to have pounced on the radio station last evening and stopped a paid for recorded UPND program claiming the radio station needed to acquire a permit from the Police.
The Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance has challenged the Zambia police service to arrest the District Commissioner, labeling him a traceable perpetrator of media attacks.
ZIIMA President Jajah Coulibaly says it is sad that in this time and era, officers from the police service who were used to close down PASME FM in Petauke district Eastern province at the orders of a civil servant do not even understand the law but ignorantly act on political instructions.
Mr. Coulibaly said ZIIMA is shocked that civil servants under the current leadership go unpunished despite committing crimes, the latest ones being the Petauke and Mwinilunga DC who also blocked well-wishers from donating.
He has reminded President Edgar Lungu that the continued uncouth behavior of his appointees will not stop until he cracks a whip, failure to do so will cement people’s view that they have his blessings.
Mr. Coulibaly has further challenged the police command who have been making blanket statements on unprofessional cops to discipline the two officers who were used to close down a media house that was airing a paid for a radio program.
He said media houses are operating under harsh economic conditions with the coming of Covid-19 and blocking a source of income for the radio station is totally shameful and evil.
Mr. Coulibally has urged the radio station to take up this matter and exhaust all legal avenues to send a clear message to would-be perpetrators.
And MISA Zambia Chairperson Helen Mwale says her Organisation has received with great disappointment the reports that PASME FM in Petauke District has been closed by order of the District Commissioner in Petauke for airing a radio programme featuring an opposition political party leader.
Ms. Mwale says the report indicates that the Petauke District Commissioner, Ms. Velenasi Moyo went to PASME FM yesterday evening and stopped the broadcast of a paid-for recorded radio programme featuring the United Party for National Development.
She said the District Commissioner cited the lack of a police permit from the station before featuring any opposition political party on radio and later called officers from the Zambia Police Service to close the station until further notice.
Ms. Mwale said MISA Zambia finds this senseless act by the District Commissioner not only primitive but an assault and an affront to democracy and the right to citizens to fully express themselves through their freedom of expression and hinders the ability of citizens to freely access information without intimidation whatsoever. The role of the media remains to educate, inform as well as to entertain and it should be given sufficient leverage to do so.
She has reminded the District commissioner that the Independent Broadcasting Authority is the only institution that is mandated by law to regulate media stations as outlined in the IBA Act following the abrogation of laid down procedures and code of ethics. The IBA also has a complaints channel and procedure that the District Commissioner should follow if at all she strongly feels that the station erred in any way.