Last week, some suspected PF cadres disrupted a radio program in Chinsali where UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema featured during a phone-in interview.
But when asked if the Authority has any deliberate policy to ensure that radio programmes were not disturbed in an interview, IBA Director General Josephine Mapoma said the authority did not engage itself into the “politics of cadres”.
Mapoma, however, said broadcasting stations had been advised to pre-record certain sources to reduce the risk of attacks.
“No, we don’t. The IBA does not enter itself into politics of cadres. Our work is to see that whatever content the radio or television station are giving to the Zambian people is of a professional standard and ethical. It is unfortunate what took place, however, I think the people from the parties concerned need to tell you how they are going to address the issue. I heard about what happened, if I was the editor I will make sure that I do my story properly because in this particular one, they even told the police to come and protect the premises so that nothing can happen,” said Mapoma.
“We believe that any radio station is supposed to have security that makes sure that the premises is secured. And what we have told these radio and TV stations is that; if they think that the person they are going to interview…maybe some cadres will come, they need to notify the police so that if that person comes, they will be interviewed in a friendly atmosphere we have told them all that. We went further to tell them that go to the place where the person is, go and interview the person, record the person and come and put it on radio so that you do not put yourself in danger.”
Meanwhile, Hichilema said the behavior of PF cadres was unacceptable.
“This thuggish behaviour by PF officials of intimidating, disrupting and closing of media houses that carry alternative views is totally unacceptable and an assault to our cherished media freedoms and freedom of expression. It is not our fault that their leaders fail to engage our citizens through regular press briefings and interactions with media houses, because we know that they have run out of ideas. In our case, we view it as a patriotic duty to engage our citizens through various media platforms on a regular basis in order to appreciate their daily challenges and chart a way forward with them. Furthermore, these media houses have equally not been spared by the current economic hardships we are all experiencing,” Hichilema said.
“That is why out of our own volition, we elect to pay for these programmes as a way to sustain their operations in terms of emoluments, equipment maintenance and payments to various statutory bodies such as ZRA, NAPSA, IBA among others. Ordinarily, media houses are supposed to feature all players for free, but we take the pleasure to pay, because we fully understand the challenges they go through. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable for PF officials and thugs to meddle in the operations of these media houses because in the end it denies them the much needed resources which they use to keep their businesses afloat. Left unchecked, this can lead to unemployment in the country among our youth.”
He called on the police to institute investigations and arrest the culprits.
“We demand that the Zambia Police immediately institute investigations and arrest the culprits and further urge the IBA to be impartial by ensuring all stakeholders are allowed to use the radio waves without interruption from political thugs,” said Hichilema.