MISA ZAMBIA says acts of media censorship must be a thing of the past.
MISA Zambia says it has received with much sadness reports of intimidation and an act of censorship at Muchinga Radio and Mpika Radio respectively.
Chairperson Helen Mwale said MISA Zambia was concerned that on May 15, 2020, alleged Patriotic Front cadres invaded Muchinga Radio station in Chinsali to stop a radio programme featuring UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema via telephone.
Mwale said it was reported that this happened whilst the station was airing their programme ‘Muchinga Breakfast Show’ at 07:15 hours; which comes every weekday to discuss COVID-19 and current affairs.
“Sadly, this incident was preceded by another incident that happened on 13th May 2020 in Mpika. According to reports reaching us and confirmed by MISA Zambia, Mpika District Commissioner, Mr Moses Katebe, objected to a radio programme which Mpika FM wanted to air featuring the UPND president Hakainde Hichilema,” she said.
“Due to his directive, the station was scared to air the programme and this amounts to censorship. We are saddened that the DC who is supposed to uphold the law on freedom of expression and the right of citizens to access information; which is key to citizens’ participation in democratic processes is in the forefront denying citizens these key freedoms.”
She reminded the PF that they came to power because Zambians heard their messages through the media and they made a choice to elect them.
She said the PF should not hold Zambians at ransom by denying them information and gagging the media.
Mwale said current happenings in which media freedom and the right to information was denied was not just unconstitutional but was a disservice to democracy.
She said acts of media censorship must henceforth be a thing of the past.
Mwale urged parties to campaign by marketing their manifestos and not carrying out acts of intimidation and censorship against the media.
She called on the PF in the province to put its house in order and educate their cadres about the importance of the media.
Mwale said such acts of the PF had the potential to clamp down freedom of expression and media freedom.
“However, we would like to thank the police for responding swiftly to the call of Muchinga Radio and it is our hope that the culprits will be brought to book. Additionally, we are urging other journalists and the media to always report such uncalled for acts to the police once they occur so that justice is served,” said Mwale in a statement.