HH statement on harassment of ZNBC staff by PF officials
26th November 2014
I am greatly saddened to see how the PF Government is manhandling our national broadcaster ZNBC and abusing its power in order to try to influence the upcoming election.
We need to stand together in opposition to the use of intimidation of our nation’s broadcasters and attempts to control media content through ‘guidance’ coming directly from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The Zambian people have the right to know what the candidates for election are doing and promising in their campaigns. I call on the PF Government to let us see the truth of what is happening. Let the people see what is happening so they can make their own minds up in January.
The harassment of news staff who were just doing their job is objectionable. We are a peaceful nation. Violence and intimidation are not Zambian. The individuals involved should remember that and should be disciplined.
Furthermore, I have been shocked and deeply concerned by the contents of a statement issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting which states that in the future journalists and broadcasters are required seek guidance from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on such matters.
The idea that a Government official should charge himself or herself with providing guidance on the coverage of elections issues is unacceptable. We are a democratic nation, not an authoritarian regime. We must have a free media and the Zambian people have a right to know what their politicians are up to.
I would today like to add my voice to those who are standing up to Government to remind them that ZNBC does not belong to them, it belongs to the Zambian people.
I call on Government to stand back and stop interfering with media coverage, but to leave journalists and broadcasters to make their own educated decisions about what should or should not be covered.
Finally, I call on media and civil society to continue to stand firm and not let these abuses of power go unnoticed.