GOVERNMENT has accused Parliament of having blocked private media houses from covering the opening of the fourth session of the 11th National Assembly by President Michael Sata last Friday.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Joseph Katema has denied that it was his ministry through the Zambia News and Information Service (ZANIS) that barred the Press which barred private media journalists.
He however failed to explain why for the first time in history, there had been a moratorium placed on private media houses to cover State functions and other official events.
Dr Katema could also not provide any answers to questions why private media houses have since been blacklisted from covering State House events apart from claiming that there were rules and regulations that were being followed to accredit private media houses.
He also refused to assure private media houses of their freedom to cover any State functions, adding that media houses could not just cover any event even if they were accredited by relevant authorities.
According to Dr Katema, the Ministry of Information did not want to interfere with the operations of the National Assembly and that was why government folded its arms when journalists were being hustled by Parliament security personnel and a platoon of armed police officers.
Dr Katema said while the media was free to operate, it was important to realise that they could not cover any event without being regulated.
“The decision to bar journalists from covering the opening of Parliament was not made by the executive but it was purely an administrative decision of the National Assembly. ZANIS had accredited about 129 media houses both local and international and it was up to the National Assembly to place them where they felt it was appropriate. Government did not want to interfere with the operations of the National Assembly because that would be interfering with the other arm of government which is the legislature. Even if you want to cover the courts, you cannot just walk into the courtroom and begin covering court proceedings,” Dr Katema said.
According to Dr Katema, the PF government was the friendliest to media houses.