(By Masuzyo Chakwe and Isaac Zulu)
THE Media Owners Association of Zambia says it will continue engaging with the Independent Broadcasting Authority to see how best the suspension of Prime Television can be resolved amicably and lifted as quickly as possible.
MOAZ president Kenny Tonga said the decision to suspend Prime Television for 30 days by the Independent Broadcasting Authority was unfortunate as it had deprived citizens the independent platform to access information and participation in matters of development.
Tonga said the association was “deeply saddened” by the suspension of Prime Television’s broadcasting licence.
“This decision to suspend one of Zambia’s leading broadcasters is unfortunate as it has deprived citizens the independent platform to access information and participation in matters of development. MOAZ strongly feels that the suspension will lead the TV station to lose revenue and erode customer confidence during this period, an unfortunate situation that will impact negatively on the brand and employment retention,” said Tonga.
“We have therefore actively engaged IBA on the matter and we are hopeful that collectively we will find resolve to this issue. As an association we would also like to appeal to all parties involved to resolve this matter and embrace dialogue.”
And UPND Central Province youth chairman Milner Mwanakampwe said the decision to suspend the broadcasting licence for Prime TV was a ploy by the Patriotic Front regime to muzzle the press.
Mwanakampwe charged that the Patriotic Front was slowly turning into a totalitarian regime by engaging in schemes aimed at intimidating and muzzling the press.
He said the tendency by the PF government to muzzle the press was defeating the true spirit of democracy and good governance.
“One African leader by the name of Idi Amin once said: ‘Freedom of speech I guarantee you, freedom after speech I deny you’. This is what leaders with dictatorial tendencies would want to advocate in their governance style. Likewise, the PF government wants people to continue folding their hands over the issue of press freedom. It would not even be wrong to conclude that the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services sanctioned the closure of Prime TV for 30 days,” Mwanakampwe said in interview. “This decision to suspend the broadcasting licence for Prime TV is a ploy by the Patriotic Front regime to muzzle the press.”
Kangwa pointed out that press freedom was one of the fundamental tenets of democracy; hence the need for the government to create a conducive environment for the private media to thrive.
“Press freedom is one of the cornerstones of democracy. Therefore, in a democratic dispensation the media, being the fourth estate, should be allowed to operate freely without undue intimidation,” he said.
Mwanakampwe further charged that the Patriotic Front was allergic to criticism and divergent views.
“The late President Levy Mwanawasa allowed the media to operate freely because the Head of State allowed his government to be subjected to constructive criticism. Subsequently we saw the mushrooming of private media houses under the MMD regime. But today we have a government that is intolerant to divergent views and criticism. Clearly, the current PF leadership is allergic to criticism and divergent views,” added Mwanakampwe.