Katema against Sata whereabouts stories

Government has accused some sections of the media of having pre-conceived and predetermined ideas in pursuing its stories on the whereabouts of President Michael Sata and his health status.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Joseph Katema has maintained that State House would issue a statement on the matter but only as and when it will be absolutely necessary.

He said it was not immediately necessary for State House to issue a statement on the whereabouts of President Sata and his health status because the Head of State had already made himself available to the nation by chairing a cabinet meeting on Monday this week.

On Monday, State House released still pictures of a cabinet meeting allegedly chaired by President Sata.

And Dr Katema has refuted assertions that he had instructed all public media houses to stop covering Lusaka Mayor Mulenga Sata.

He said it was unfair for people to continue peddling lies against government with the intention of discrediting government officials.

Dr Katema yesterday angrily told the Daily Nation that the newspaper’s reporters had adopted a quarrelsome attitude in their determination to get stories from government ministers.

The minister who could not state when State House would be able to issue a comprehensive statement on the speculations and innuendoes currently chocking the nation about the whereabouts of President Sata and his health status said it was annoying that the reporter doubted government’s position.

Dr Katema who is Chief Government spokesperson in a pensive tone told the reporter to get in touch with State House over President Sata’s absence from public appearances charging that it was not necessary to inform Zambians about the whereabouts of President Sata and why he was avoiding to address the nation.

He said Zambians should believe and accept that President Sata chaired a cabinet meeting on Monday this week and that pictures of the Head of State entering the auditorium where the meeting took place were circulated to all media houses.

When asked why State House had decided to circulate the pictures of President Sata chairing the Monday cabinet meeting when he had always been chairing the meeting as the Head of State, Dr Katema accused the reporter of having a preconceived mind in his line of asking questions.

“The Vice-President has said State House would as and when it is absolutely necessary issue a statement on the whereabouts of President Sata and his health status. The President chaired a cabinet meeting and I attended the meeting myself. Things did move well and we shall inform the nation as and when necessary. Do not quarrel with your sources. Why do you call me with your pre-conceived mind. I have given you the answer, put away your pein and I am cutting the line…finish,” Dr Katema said before terminating the line.

And Dr Katema said at no time did he instruct public media houses to stop covering Lusaka Mayor Mulenga Sata.

He said the assertions were not only baseless but irresponsible.

Dr Katema said Mulenga Sata was the Lusaka Mayor and a PF official and was free to receive as much coverage from all media houses as possible.

He said he had no powers to stop media houses from performing their functions of disseminating information to the public cautioning that media houses should utilize their freedom of the press and expression responsibly.

Dr Katema has challenged editors in public media houses to have courage and do their job without fear or favour adding that government would not like to respond to ghost informers.

“Mulenga Sata is the Lusaka Mayor and it would not be correct for me to instruct media houses to stop covering him. How can I stop an official like the Mayor from being covered by the media? Do not dwell on gossip and please I have not told any editor in the public media to stop covering Mulenga Sata,” Dr Katema said.