Media Freedom and God

By Wilson Pondamali
It was by God’s design that man must have a free will to express himself, the call for media freedoms is basically a fulfillment of God’s design and anyone who suppresses that is eminently suppressing God’s efforts.In the early hours of Tuesday two prominent journalists Clayson Hamasaka and Thomas Zyambo had their homes raided by combined security agencies and were later detained and have spent the night in the cold police detention, the trauma that their families have gone through aside.

Stiffling of the media is not new to this nation, it is something that has been in place from the Kaunda regime down to the PF reign. Kaunda regime may be technically spared, since Dr. Kaunda’s reign was one party state but the suppression of the media in a democracy is unacceptable.

Hamasaka is a prominent Lecturer in Journalism and just recently joined the list of the unemployed when he was hounded out of his job for allegedly allowing UPND leader Hichilema be hosted on Hone FM, where he was a also manager and Zyambo is an ex reporter at the Zambia Daily mail. Many people that are practising today have passed through the capable hands of Mr. Hamasaka, Me too.

There is no democracy that thrives without a free media that reflects the wish of the people and to accuse the two men of being the publishers of the Zambian Watchdog and charge them for that does not make any sense at common reasoning and deserves condemnation from all stakeholders. What is unfolding are serious signs of dictatorship and the PF is a democratically elected government, President Sata himself is a beneficiary of democracy and was a leading member of the campaign to return to multipartyism in 1990.

The PF being a democratically elected government must be the last to be seen suppressing the instruments of democracy to even set a barometer for any subsequent government, legacy! The rate at which people’s freedom of expression is being curtailed is a time bomb to the country and creates room for opportunists who desire to cause chaos in the country. It is on this background that Hamasaka and Zyambo must be released unconditionally and immediately.

If the Zambian Watchdog has erred, why not punish the publication under the existing laws of the land? Certainly doing otherwise just amounts to harassment and embarking on a fishing expedition while many problems in the country are starved of collective solution finding.

Nobody wants Zambia to score records of being a media hostile nation, especially on the brink of our first soccer tournament hosting of the Cosafa games and on the eve of the UNWTO general assembly taking place next month. Democracy can also be a tourism attraction and let us not remove it from its deserving place.

I pity the families of the two colleagues and with threats that more media practitioners are targeted, it is increasingly making people live in fear, but I am certainly sure, no Journalist will flee the country for his safety, Zambia is our home and it shall remain our home. Free Clayson, Free Thomas!

The Author is an Independent Investigative Journalist,  Media rights Activist, and Correspondent Journalist for the Daily Nation newspaper, Former correspondent at the Post and Radio Mano