MAJOR Richard Kachingwe says the 30-day suspension of Prime TV’s broadcasting licence by the Independent Broadcasting Authority is a crude verdict that needs a re-think. Maj Kachingwe, a former MMD national secretary, was commenting on the decision by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to suspend Prime TV’s broadcasting licence and Valley FM radio of Nyimba district for 60 days.
He emphasised that the punishment on Prime TV by the IBA is an assault on democracy.
“The IBA has many other functions and I’m sure somewhere in their books there must be where they have to reprimand [wrongdoers]. Prime TV is an employer; it takes a lot of time and money to put up a news outlet together. So, the suspension of the licence means Prime TV will be off air and there will be a lot of side effects on the employees and their families,” Maj Kachingwe said in an interview.
“So, for those in leadership, every time you are meting out punishment, you should look at all these issues. Whereas I don’t support patronage of the press by political parties, the punishment was too much.”
Maj Kachingwe also said that when the MMD got into power in 1991, “we promoted a free press because it guarantees democracy.”
“A free press guarantees also security of the nation because what can be aired on one news outlet, the other ones can refute it. So, it’s important that we continue to promote a free press as an ingredient of democracy,” Maj Kachingwe, an ex-High Commissioner to Nigeria, said.
“I have been against disbanding of the press; I have been [MMD] deputy national secretary, national secretary and I have never prevailed over journalists to write nicely about me or to follow me. That’s what we must practice as Zambians. So, the punishment on Prime TV was too crude – they needed to re-think. In future, they must look at the repercussions; how many people will be affected? The people who work for Prime TV will be in the streets for now! So, what happens to their families?”
And Maj Kachingwe pointed out that while he knew some unprofessional stuff which was happening in the press, remedial measures “should not be that ultimate.”
“It’s also important for the press not to be biased and to report the truth; whether that truth hurts, it must be reported. That’s what we need for our democracy to flourish,” Maj Kachingwe advised.
“Look at the American press! They even report against each other! We need to reach maturity. The IBA must have done something better than the way they have done it. I note also that they have gone for radio stations; it’s an assault on democracy.”
He further urged journalists to be united, stressing that they are currently politically compromised since 2011.