WE are not happy with the way government is intimidating the media, the Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) has complained. ZIIMA president Jajah Coulibaly announced through an interview yesterday that his organisation had written to police notifying them of a peaceful protest in Lusaka to demonstrate against the 30-day suspension of Prime TV licence by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).
He said the planned protest would begin at the Freedom Statue and wind up at the IBA offices at the Mass Media Complex.
“According to the public order Act we have followed all the necessary procedures so we don’t expect police to come in and prevent this protest from happening because that will be curtailing freedom of assembly, they have curtailed freedom of expression so we cannot as well curtail freedom of assembly,” Coulibaly said.
According to ZIIMA’s notice to police dated March 11, 2019 and signed by Coulibaly, the protest of about 50 journalists and 20 other stakeholders was expected to last three hours. He stated that ZIIMA would provide its own marshals to avoid to unnecessary security concerns.
“Being good citizens of this country, we thought of writing to you to fulfil the requirements of the Public Order Act (POA),” Coulibaly stated.
He explained that the objective of the protest was to send a message to the government that his organisation was not happy with its intimidation of media houses and journalists.
“We are trying to send a signal that journalists in Zambia are not happy with the way this government is trying to intimidate the media, the way government is trying to limit journalists in their operations” he said.
Coulibaly insisted the 30-day suspension of Prime TV licence was harsh and unprocedural. He argued that since the complaint from PF secretary general Davies Mwila was not made with the right procedure, the actions of the IBA were consequently out of line.
“So if something is rotten from the start there is no way it can be chocolate in the end,” Coulibaly said.
He called on members of the public to turn up in numbers and join the protest in support of media freedom. Last week, the IBA suspended the broadcast license of Prime TV citing unprofessionalism but its decision has been widely condemned with diplomats calling for the immediate lifting of the suspension.