By Scoop Reporter
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Zambia says it has received with much sadness, reports of intimidation and an act of censorship at Muchinga Radio and Mpika Radio respectively.
MISA-Zambia chairperson Hellen Mwale says the institute is concerned that on May 15, 2020, alleged Patriotic Front (PF) cadres invaded Muchinga Radio station in Chinsali to stop a radio programme which was featuring the United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema via telephonic means.
Ms. Mwale says it is reported that this happened whilst the station was airing their programme, Muchinga Breakfast Show at 07:15hrs; which comes every weekday to discuss issues surrounding the impact of the Corona Virus disease (COVID-19) and current affairs.
“Sadly, this incident was preceded by another incident that happened on 13th May, 2020 in Mpika. According to reports reaching us and confirmed by MISA Zambia, Mpika District Commissioner (DC), Moses Katebe objected to a radio programme which Mpika FM wanted to air featuring the UPND President, Hakainde Hichilema.
“Due to his directive, the station was scared to air the programme and this amounts to censorship. We are saddened that the DC who is supposed to uphold the law on freedom of expression and the right of citizens to access information; which is key to citizens’ participation in democratic processes is in the forefront denying citizens these key freedoms,” Ms. Mwale said.
She reminded the PF that they came to power because the people of Zambia heard their messages through the media and made a choice to elect them and therefore should not hold them ransom by denying them information and gagging the media.
She says the current happenings in which media freedom and the right to information is denied is not just unconstitutional but is a disservice to democracy. Acts of media censorship must henceforth be a thing of the past.
“We urge parties to campaign by marketing their manifestos and not carrying out acts of intimidation and censorship against the media. MISA Zambia is therefore calling upon the PF in the province to put its house in order and educate their cadres about the importance of the media and let them know that such acts have the potential to clamp down freedom of expression and media freedom.
“However, we would like to thank the police for responding swiftly to the call of Muchinga Radio and it is our hope that the culprits will be brought to book. Additionally, we are urging other journalists and the media to always report such uncalled for acts to the police once they occur so that justice is served,” she said.