MINISTRY of Information permanent secretary Amos Malupenga has told the High Court that Prime Television does not have the ability to exercise its right to impart and receive information as it is not licensed.
Malupenga has further submitted that Prime Television’s petition where its challenging government’s decision to cease all cooperation with it, is incompetent as the station was not licenced at the time it commenced the said action.
Meanwhile, the state, through the Attorney General’s Chambers, has told the court to dismiss the case, saying Prime TV could only have enjoyed freedom of the press if it had a valid license.
According to an affidavit in support of notice of intention to raise a preliminary issue filed in the Lusaka High Court, May 19, Malupenga submitted that media enterprises such as Prime Television in Zambia could only exercise the right to impart and receive information if they complied with the provisions of the Independent and Broadcasting Authority Act which among them includes licensing with the Authority.
“That the Petitioner (Prime Television) at the time that it commenced this action on March 31, 2020 was not licenced by the Independent Broadcasting Authority as required by law as its licence had expired on March 28, 2020. In the circumstances, violation of its rights does not arise thereby making its Petition before this court incompetent,” read the affidavit.
Meanwhile, the State has asked the court to dismiss the petition with costs, arguing that Prime TV’s broadcasting licence was the only basis upon which its freedom of press as guaranteed under Article 20 of the Constitution could be enjoyed.
This is according to the Attorney General’s list of authorities and skeleton arguments in support of summons for an order to dismiss the matter on point of law.
“My Lady, we submit that the Petitioner’s broadcasting licence was the only basis upon which its freedom of press as guaranteed under Article 20 of the Constitution could be enjoyed. In this particular case, the said license expired on March 29, 2020, two days before this action was commenced on March 31, 2020. Therefore, at the point of commencement of this action, the Petitioner had no right to commence this action and seek the claims sought herein as the licence it previously held had no legal effect,” the State submitted.
“It follows therefore that the Petitioner’s petition has no limbs to stand on as the basis upon which its freedom of press could be guaranteed and/or enjoyed had at the point of commencement of this action no legal effect. We pray that this Honourable Court grants the application sought and dismisses this matter with costs.”
And Messrs. Mwenye and Mwitwa Advocates have withdrawn from acting as Advocates for Prime Television.
This is according to a notice of withdrawal as advocates filed in the Lusaka High Court.
In this matter, Prime Television has petitioned the Lusaka High Court for an order quashing Information Minister Dora Siliya’s decision to cease all cooperation with the station.
The television station which has cited the Attorney General, Topstar Communications Company Limited and Multichoice Zambia Limited as respondents, is seeking an order declaring government’s decision to cease all transactions and business with it, unconstitutional.
Prime Television further wants an order that all media houses have the right to access and disseminate information from government without undue hinderances and an order that Topstar and Multichoice Zambia cannot remove it from their platforms at the direction of government.