Copperbelt Minister Mwenya Musenge has over stepped his grounds in directing radio stations to seek police permission before hosting political guests, says Media Institute of Southern Africa- Zambia (MISA) acting chairperson Hellen Mwale
Ms Mwale has however advised the Patriotic Front (PF) to educate its cadres about democracy that allowed for everybody to exist freely regardless of their divergent views and opinions on issues.
She wondered why the Minister seemed to be giving authority to the cadres to attack media houses instead of calling on the police to protect innocent citizens against the growing criminality among the PF cadres.
“MISA Zambia would like to urge the Patriotic Front to teach its members that democracy is a governance system in which ideas are the only commodity that is traded through freedom of expression which can be achieved via appearance on radio, television or through meetings and other means as social media,” she said.
She said democracy was a governance system that supported freedom of expression and allowed for divergent ideas and not blows or any form of terror on the citizens.
She expressed disappointment at the minister’s statement which she described as retrogressive as he had no authority to dictate how media institutions should operate, adding that the media was not a branch of the PF party or government.
Ms Mwale said Zambia was not a mafia state where the violent take the reins of power, but was an all-inclusive society, regardless of how different the line of thought was. She said media institutions were professional bodies which should be allowed to operate free from any political interference or intimidation, and called on the police to overcome the situation.
She said Mr Musenge’s statement was made against what they as PF used condemn in its strategy to gaining popularity that subsequently won them the 2011 elections.
Ms Mwale said PF should denounce violence and bring to an end the behavior of its cadres instead of them extending their intimidation to the media which every citizen is free to use to express their views.
“The rights to freedom of expression and access to information in addition to the media’s ability to operate independently are vital in any society especially a democratic one as they protect other human rights such as the right to access clean water, better health facilities while they prevent bad governance and underdevelopment which are common in our country. However, it seems the party (PF) is trying to curtail this right in order to stop dissenting views or ability of others to share their ideas and opinions as provided by our constitution which is the supreme law of the land,” she said.
Ms Mwale wondered why there was this big danger to the rights of the Zambian citizens to express themselves freely, to access vital and truthful information and to media independence when the country was a living democracy.
On Saturday, UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema escaped lynching from PF cadres armed with pangas and guns as he featured on a programme at Sun Radio in Ndola.
Musenge was quoted advising media houses to avoid damage to their property by applying for police permits to host opposition political parties.