THE UPND has advised the government and PF cadres to respect the independence of the media and stop persecuting Prime Television.
The government has announced that it will no longer deal with Prime TV and directed its agencies to terminate any running contracts with the private television channel following a misunderstanding over COVID-19 advertising.
During a meeting, Prime TV proprietor, speaking on behalf of independent broadcasters said the media would not give free coverage to government to disseminate advertisements on coronavirus.
“We note with concern the growing behaviour by the PF as a party in collusion with government to systematically gag the media through skilled corrupt disruption of commercials at Prime Television,” UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka stated yesterday.
“As a party, we note that the behaviour of chief government spokesperson Dora Siliya, later on the PF secretary general Davies Mwila to announce the closing of cooperation with Prime TV, does not only amount to abuse of public office on the part of the chief government spokesperson but also a clear violation of freedom of the media.”
Katuka stated that sadly Mwila was “childishly, recklessly, irresponsibly and maliciously” announcing solidarity with the government on a purely evil, illegal and corrupt scheme to destroy the media in the country.
He stated that deliberately creating an unsustainable condition for Prime TV, which was legally registered under the Laws of Zambia, was an act outside the law and should not be tolerated.
“PF has gone too far in taking the law in their own hands and we wish to warn that we shall not tolerate this acute, deliberate gagging of the media. PF wants private media to run like ZNBC, which is a misplaced scheme and is not tenable,” Katuka stated. “It seems PF is not satisfied with the manner in which they have destroyed ZNBC and would want to extend their corrupt behaviour to private media.”
He stated that ZNBC had continued to limp due to the PF cadres taking over the public broadcaster.
“What PF forgets is that we are paying TV levies for ZNBC to run. Yet what we see daily is propaganda in favour of the PF. For PF to want to control private media as though they were public media is not only misplaced but a clear demonstration of a failed leadership,” Katuka stated. “We are amazed that the whole PF leadership would sink so low to join in an evil exercise to take a reckless government position to arm-twist a private television station.”
He stated that the UPND would stand with all those who were oppressed in the country.
“We condemn the childish statement from PF secretary general Davies Mwila to resolve to curtail the freedom of the private media through evil calculated schemes in collusion with the state,” Katuka stated. “As far as we are concerned, Mwila stopped Prime TV from covering aĺl PF functions over a year ago and we are surprised that he is stopping Prime TV from covering PF events for the second time.”
He urged the PF to own up and behave like a ruling party and not like a kindergarten grouping even on serious national matters.
“Who cares if Davies Mwila is not covered? And who would want to listen to his corrupt tantrums? Let those in PF who want coverage be covered. Let us respect freedom of the media,” stated Katuka.