THE PF leadership should rescind their decision to export maize and mealie-meal until we are certain our people have enough food, urges UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema. And Hichilema has condemned the Independent Broadcasting Authority’s decision to suspend Prime TV’s broadcasting licence, describing the move as an attempt to gag the media. In a statement yesterday, Hichilema said Zambia was facing unprecedented social, economic and political problems, which needed a permanent solution.
“This takes us to the forgotten agriculture sector by the PF and Mr Edgar Lungu. Due to poor rains in a number of areas, most of the maize fields have dried up, a sign that hunger and poverty levels will escalate to unprecedented levels in our country,” he said.
“We wish to remind the country that I alerted the nation about the likely poor rainfall pattern before the current season started and that there was need to put in place proactive remedial measures but as usual this PF government did not listen.”
Hichilema said in view of “this grave situation”, the PF government should rescind its decision to the export of maize and mealie-meal. The government recently announced the lifting of a ban on mealie-meal exports. And Hichilema called for the immediate lifting of a 30-day suspension of Prime TV’s broadcasting licence, saying media intimidation, curtailing of freedom of speech and expression were all signs of a dictatorship that Zambia had become. The IBA on Monday suspended the television station’s operations for 30 days, citing failure to comply with the conditions of its broadcasting licence.
The IBA’s decision followed a complaint against the television station by the ruling PF’s secretary general Davies Mwila. Hichilema, however, said human rights, freedoms and liberties were under constant threat in the country and must be a source of concern to everyone.
“Our statement comes in the light of the closure of Prime TV under suspicious circumstance by the IBA with obvious instructions from PF,” he said.
“This is a gagging order on the media which plays a critical role in our country. Therefore, as people that believe in media freedom, we would like to condemn the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) for playing out a PF agenda by closing privately owned Prime Television.”
He said the reasons stated for the closure were political and aimed at gagging the media.
“This move is unacceptable and all well-meaning Zambians must condemn it. We state so because IBA has never taken time to take such an action on ZNBC, an institution funded by the Zambians despite its unfair and biased coverage,” Hichilema stated.
“You do not need to be media expert to know how biased ZNBC has become since 2011. The suspension of Prime Television broadcasting rights must be lifted immediately. If not done then the people have every right to brand Mr Edgar Lungu, a dictator.”
He said the UPND would endeavour to empower the private media to bring out issues affecting people, act on those concerns, and not shutting them down.
“This is how modern governments operate. They need feedback from their citizens,” said Hichilema.
“We will allow the media to give a voice to the voiceless because in the UPND we believe that it is Zambia and Zambians first.”