Lusaka Principal Resident Magistrate Obbister Musukwa has urged the media to ensure that they report court proceedings accurately. This follows a concern raised by a defence lawyer Major Charles Lisita in the case involving former Information minister Ronnie Shikapwasha where he is jointly charged with two others that some sections of the media have been reporting inaccurately about the court proceedings.
This is a matter in which Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha is jointly charged with his former Information Permanent Secretary Sam Phiri and Freelance Journalist Chanda Chimba III with abuse of authority of office contrary to Section 99 (1) of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws the laws of Zambia. In this case it is alleged that on unknown dates but between October 1 and November 31, 2010 Lt Gen Shikapwasha and Dr Phiri, jointly and whilst acting together, arbitrarily and in disregard of defamation laws and ZNBC editorial policy directed ZNBC management to broadcast Chanda Chimba’s documentary namely, Stand Up for Zambia, an act prejudicial to the rights and interests of ZNBC, a public body.
When the matter came up for continuation of trial today, Major Lisita said before they could proceed in the matter, he wanted to tell the court that the defence team had a concern as it had witnessed serious inaccurate reporting from some sections of the media and it was high time they were corrected. He said the Times of Zambia ran a story in its publication dated February 7,2014 on its Front page where it was reported that the magistrate noticed that he (Lisita) was not present before the court on February 5, 2014 hence his absence led to an adjournment of the matter.
He said he was present before the court on that particular day he was alleged to have been absent adding that such reporting was misleading as they were putting words in the mouth of the magistrate. The defence lawyer told the court that the named reporter who wrote the story should be made to account for it before the court as she was present during the court proceedings.
And making a ruling , Magistrate Musukwa requested for a copy of the article in question and after going through the story, he said he had noted the concern by the defence about the misinformation by some sections of the media. He said the article in question was not inaccurate per se in its report with regard to what transpired on that particular day because the rest of the story was true and that only a small part of it which was not well reported.
He said it was not necessary to make the reporter accountable but could only urge the media to be accurate in their reporting. Meanwhile, trial in the matter continued and was later adjourned to tomorrow, March 14, 2014, for continuation of trial.