The government threat to deregister media institutions speaking against Patriotic Front (PF)’s failures and rampant corruption is a dander to democracy, the Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) has said.
ZDDM vice president Charles Kafumbo said the statement by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga threatening media houses reporting on PF’s failures and corruption was detrimental to democracy.
But Information minister Kennedy Sakeni says the comments by the Mr Malupenga were not targeted at particular media houses but was an emphasis on media institutions to be professional.
Mr Sakeni said it was not the wish of his government to shut down media houses and that the PF as a party did not wish to be praised all the time.
However, Mr Kafumbo noted government was showing signs of desperation and lack of commitment to the development of the profession.
“The warning to revoke practicing licenses for some media houses that are critical of PF’s eleven months in office is futility, a violation of freedom of expression and desperate kicks of a failed government,” Mr. Kafumbo said.
Mr Kafumbo said Mr Malupenga’s warning which was aired on Mobi Television news was a desperate move by government’s intension to silence everyone which he described as very unfortunate.
“Because of failure this government wants to silence everyone, very unfortunate. Let this government review its performance and learn from its mistakes,” Mr Kafundo explained.
He said government should be giving direction for towards development instead of issuing threats aimed at destruction.
He said Mr Malupenga should “give direction to the nation rather than give wanton empty threats.”
And Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) Chairperson Andrew Sakala said government should be seen to promote media freedom instead of issuing reckless remarks that were aimed at interfering with media freedom in the country.
Mr. Sakala said criticizing government should not be a reason to threaten deregistration or revocation of media licenses because that was the role of the media.
He said deregistration or revocation of licenses should not be an option, and that it was unbelievable for that such a statement to be issued by a senior government official.
“I do not expect such a statement from a ministry of information official, because they are the ones who should be promoting media freedoms in the country,” Mr. Sakala
He said there was no way any media institution could lose their license for being critical of government, that “being critical of government should not result in closure of revocation.”
He said PAZA was looking forward to the new amendments in the draft constitution which would contribute to the functions and growth of the media in the country.
“We are looking forward that the provisions of the draft constitution could be included into the final constitution,” Sakala said.
And Mr Sakeni said as government they expect media houses to be professional and objective in their call.
“I think the permanent secretary has been misunderstood. What he was trying to say is that media houses should check on their performances and that they should be objective in the way they do their work.
It is not the duty of the PF government to deregister media houses but all we saying is can we be professional because it is this professionalism that will build the image of our nation,” said Sakeni.
The minister said that people should not think it was government’s intention to shut down media houses but that media houses should perform accordingly.