Below is the ZNBC Board Chairperson Dr JOHN MULWILA’s statement in full:
The board and management of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation is disturbed and disappointed by the behavior of some senior government Ministers and the Patriotic Front -PF- party officials who have continued to storm into the ZNBC Newsroom and harass newsroom staff, ordering them to drop or not to use stories of other people or opposition political parties with dissenting views from theirs.
The Board and management of ZNBC is further dismayed that the same cabinet ministers are also threatening newsroom staff with dismissals, thereby creating fear, anxiety and insecurity among them.
What happened last night where Minister of Youth and Sports Chishimba Kambwili and PF Deputy Secretary General Anthony Kasolo stormed ZNBC Newsroom harassed and ordered Mr Kenneth Maduma Director of News and Current Affairs in front of his staff, to remove the stories on Honourable Inonge Wina and the UPND President Mr Hakainde Hichilema,is unacceptable and should be condemned in strongest terms.
The threats by Mr Kambwili to dismiss Mr Maduma and his staff from employment on account of doing their professional work, does not only amount to abuse of authority of office, and a crime, but it also takes away the dignity of a person of his standing in society.
The Board and Management is equally disappointed that Chongwe Member of Parliament Ms Sylvia Masebo had the audacity to use abusive language and threats to Mr Maduma on telephone, ordering him to ignore the Inonge Wina story.
The Board and Management of ZNBC, is equally perturbed at the vulgar language that was used against newsroom staff by Mr Kambwili and Ms Masebo.
The Board is further disturbed that Mr Robert Kamalata, a senior private secretary to the office of the Vice-president, could call Mr Maduma and accuse him and newsroom staff of having an agenda to work against the party in Government.
It is also unacceptable that Mr Kamalata, a civil servant, had the audacity to threaten ZNBC Newsroom staff with dismissals, which is outside his authority and powers to do so.
Sadly, the conduct of Mr Kambwili and Ms Masebo, comes barely a week after the new Permanent Secretary for Information and Broadcasting Services, Mr Chanda Kasolo came to ZNBC newsroom and ordered staff to stop using all stories from opposition political parties, and anyone endorsing the candidature of Justice and Defense Minister Edgar Lungu for the presidency of the PF.
Therefore, the Board and Management of ZNBC, would like to make it abundantly clear, that ZNBC has an Editorial Policy that has a very candid Complaints Procedure, which aggrieved parties or persons are required to use to seek redress. The same policy is a guiding tool for the newsroom staff in their generation, treatment and dissemination of news content.
Therefore, it is highly erroneous for Government, Party officials and other stakeholders to take over the role of ZNBC Journalists.
As Public Broadcaster, ZNBC is further guided by the Electoral Code of Conduct and the Independent Broadcasting Authority, which among other requirements, demand that news must be impartial, fair, balanced, and reflect divergent views.
This is simply the professional role ZNBC staff are pursuing and not any other political motive or agenda.
The Board and Management of ZNBC therefore demands that all Media Statement must be duly signed and no verbal statements or instructions will be entertained, to protect ZNBC staff from abuse by people who wield political power.
The Board and Management would also like to re-iterate its earlier position to political parties and their supporters not to turn ZNBC into a political battle field by frequenting the newsroom.
In conclusion, therefore, the Board would like to assure staff of its unwavering and unflinching support in their generation, treatment and dissemination of news content in line with ZNBC’s National Mandate to serve the public.