IT is barbaric and uncivilized for Government ministers and Patriotic Front (PF) officials to have stormed the Zambia National Broadcasting Cooperation (ZNBC) and harass management and its staff for professionally carrying out their mandate, Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) executive director MacDonald Chipenzi has charged.
And MISA Zambia chairperson Hellen Mwale said the invasion of ZNBC newsroom by Sports Minister Chishimba Kambwili and Patriotic Front (PF) deputy secretary general Anthony Kasolo to intimidate and threaten staff with dismissals amounted to raping the freedom of expression and editorial independence.
MISA has demanded that police should immediately arrest and prosecute Mr Kambwili and Mr Kasolo for their criminal acts of trespass because the duo had no authority to enter the premises.
But Chongwe Member of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Masebo has said she had no apology to make to ZNBC management and staff because as a leader she had the duty to call and demand fairness.
But MISA said it was unacceptable that 50 years after independence, Government ministers like Mr Kambwili still found it befitting to muzzle the press.
“Mr Kambwili and his team should not drag their political confusion to media houses as the media is there to represent divergent views and report facts as they are, they should not expect the media not to report the confusion going on in their party because this party is seeking the vote of the citizens,” Ms Mwale said.
Mr Chipenzi said the behaviour by Mr Kambwili, Mr Kasolo, his brother Chanda Kasolo, Ms Masebo and Robert Kamalata, the senior private secretary in the office of the Vice-President was undemocratic and must strongly be condemned.
He said the conduct and behaviour portrayed by some senior Government officials did not warrant them to be in those positions of leadership they currently hold because they were extremely misfits to any democratic type of leadership.
Mr Chipenzi said the five government and PF officials had already forgotten that a few years ago, they were in the opposition and the chances were still there that they would not be in Government after the January presidential election.
“FODEP wants to appreciate and commend the ZNBC Board for the timely defense of the defenseless journalists at ZNBC whom politicians want to take advantage of by using intimidatory tactics,” he said.
Mr Chipenzi said the comprehensive statement from the ZNBC board chairperson Dr John Mulwila, on behalf of ZNBC board, was highly timely and a rare trait and move by any ZNBC board over the years.
He said it was up to the people of Zambia to open eyes and see the type of leaders they wanted to put into power, adding that with some of them wanting to be voted for.
Mr Chipenzi called on the acting President Dr Guy Scott to show leadership by disciplining these senior members of the PF and teach them how to behave democratically, otherwise, they risk making the party very unpopular which is already fractured with internal wrangling.
“ZNBC is not a PF propaganda wing but has an obligation and a moral mandate to inform the nation and to be fair and balanced in their coverage as guided by their editorial policy,” he said.
ZNBC board chairman Mulwila has banned PF officials and ministers from storming newsrooms and ordered that all ministers and party officials would have written and signed statements because the national broadcaster was not a political battle field.