THE UPND has condemned the attacks on Zambia Daily Mail journalists by known PF cadres.
In a statement, UPND spokesperson Charles Kakoma says it is sad that Zambia Daily Mail has decided to conceal the attackers.
“We condemn in the strongest possible manner the attacks on Zambia Daily Mail journalists Steven Mvula and Jack Zimba by PF cadres. The two journalists were manhandled. Their attackers also damaged their camera and the vehicle they were using. The incident is an attack on freedom of the press and must be condemned by all well-meaning citizens of this country. We are, however, saddened that the employers of the two victims, the Zambia Daily Mail, has concealed the identity of the attackers,” Kakoma stated.
“We believe the attackers must have been named as PF cadres who were commandeered into Katuba by PF leaders. We understand the attack happened near a PF camp. Since the Zambia Daily Mail motto is to ‘Serve without fear or favour’, the newspaper should have gained courage to name and shame the thugs. We are sure that if the attackers were from the opposition, they were going to be exposed.”
Kakoma, himself a former Zambia Daily Mail managing director, stated that the attack was a fraction of the violence the PF cadres inflicted on Zambians.
“The attack on the two journalists is just but a fraction of the violence and damage the PF cadres had inflicted and caused on the people of Zambia and Katuba Constituency particularly. We are deeply concerned over the arrogance of these political cadres who were even attacking UPND polling agents right at the polling stations in the presence police officers. The rising number of attacks on citizens and those with opposing views in the country during the period of the PF government is a worrying trend that works to silence critics and weaken press freedom,” stated Kakoma.
“The government must take immediate action to end the attacks and restore press freedom and journalists safety. As a party we demand for action and compensation for the victims.”
Meanwhile, Livingstone Press Club president Hilda Sililo Akekelwa says media freedom in Zambia is seemingly being suffocated by unruly political cadres who are in the habit of targeting certain media organisations.
Akekelwa said attacks against journalists during elections compromised the electoral process and coverage of candidates.
“The Livingstone Press Club condemns in the strongest terms, the attack on two journalists from the Zambia Daily Mail, in the course of their duty, during the just-ended Katuba parliamentary by-election,” she said.
“The state of media freedom in Zambia is seemingly being suffocated by unruly political cadres who are in the habit of targeting certain media organisations.”
She said the media plays a critical role in the electoral process as it was charged with the responsibility of disseminating information to the electorates.
Akekelwa, who corresponds for Channel Africa, said anyone involved in elections or any electoral process in the country should not be targeted by political party cadres.
“It is deeply regrettable that not only bodily harm was caused to the journalists but the Daily Mail vehicle was also damaged. This is uncalled for and must be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians,” said Akekelwa. “We therefore call on all political parties including the ruling party to discipline their erring members and surrender them to law enforcement agencies. We also call on the police to ensure that perpetrators in the attack on the two Zambia Daily Mail journalists are brought to book.”