The Media Institute for Southern Africa says the UPND must discipline its cadres to ensure that attacks on journalists are stopped.

In a statement today, MISA Zambia Chapter chairperson Hellen Mwale condemned the harassment of journalists at a UPND media briefing yesterday.

“We have received with disappointment the violent attack on journalists by unruly UPND cadres at the party’s press briefing at the secretariat. As an institution that stands for freedom of expression and media freedom, we strongly condemn the attack on the journalists, among them one Silumesi Malumo of Radio Phoenix and Priscilla Banda of Millennium radio. It is unfortunate that the cadres descended on the journalists who were there to merely do their job of gathering information in the public’s interest. The attack is an affront to the freedom of the press and should be condemned by all well-meaning Zambians,” Mwale stated.

“It is our hope that the UPND leadership will get to the bottom of the matter and discipline the cadres involved as paying a blind eye to the attack will encourage such acts at other similar forums, thereby making it unsafe for journalists to cover the party’s activities for fear of their personal safety. The UPND must take immediate action as a show of its commitment to the ideals of freedom of expression and the express which are critical to the functioning of democracy.”

She stated that MISA would engage the UPND to ensure that the issue came to a logical conclusion.

“MISA stands in solidarity with the journalists that were attacked and calls on them not to relent in their duty of information dissemination in respect of the public interest. We will engage with the affected journalists and the UPND leadership to chart a way forward and ensure the matter comes to its logical conclusion and the perpetrators brought to book. We wish to call on all media practitioners to unite beyond all differences as the media fraternity is currently facing various infringements evidenced by political violence, against journalists, legal and other persecution of media houses as well as suppression of dissenting views,” stated Mwale.

“Journalists must stand together for the cause of media freedom despite coming from different media houses in a landscape of media polarisation. As we have always stated, today it may be one journalist or media house but there is no telling who will be attacked next, hence the need to stand together.”