The Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter has expressed concern at the arrest and detention of Daily Nation Newspaper Proprietor Richard Sakala, Production Editor Simon Mwanza and FODEP Executive Director Mc Donald Chipenzi over an article that appeared in its publication on December 9, 2013.
MISA Zambia Acting Chairperson Hellen Mwale says the arrest of the trio is not only draconian and archaic but retrogressive, colonial and an affront to media freedoms.
Ms Mwale has since demanded the release of the Journalists and that the charges leveled against them be dropped because it was allegedly a threat to Zambia’s democracy, curb freedom of expression and gag the media.
Ms Mwale said this in a press statement released to ZANIS in Lusaka
today. on Friday
“As MISA, we note that the Daily Nation published the information regarding the secret recruitment from a source and this would not warrant their persecution. We demand the release of the Journalists and that the charges leveled against them be dropped because this we feel is a threat to Zambia’s democracy, curb freedom of expression and gag the media,” she said.
The offence of publishing false information likely to cause public alarm and despondency in the country contrary to Section 67 subsections (i) and (ii) of the penal code Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia that Sakala, Mwanza and Chipenzi are arrested for have been framed.
She said the Zambia Police should have refuted this claim instead of harassing the innocent media personnel who are supposed to provide checks and balances to the ruling Patriotic Front government.
The Acting MISA Chairperson appealed to all well- meaning Zambians to rise up and denounce the barbaric and draconian action taken on the trio.
Ms Mwale has since challenged government to state its position on freedom of expression and the safety of Journalists in the country.
Police on Thursday formally jointly charged and arrested the FODEP Executive Director and a former Journalist at the Post Newspaper McDonald Chipenzi, Daily Nation Newspaper Proprietor Richard Sakala and the Production Editor for the Daily Nation Newspaper Simon Mwanza aged 37, 61 and 62 respectively for the offense of publication of false information with intent to cause alarm contrary to Section 67 subsections (i) and (ii) of the penal code Cap 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
Police Spokesperson Charity Munganga-Chanda who confirmed the arrest said this was in connection with the article that appeared in the Daily Nation Newspaper Vol. 3. Issue No.632 of 10th December, 2013 under the headline, ‘Secret police jobs exposed’.
Meanwhile, the trio today denied the charge in Lusaka Magistrate court and trial is set for January 10, 2014.
The Court has granted them K10,000 cash bail with two working sureties who are supposed to be working for government institutions.