Minister of Information Kampamba Mulenga yesterday opted to address pretesting ZNBC workers who have not been paid their January salaries in private saying the proceedings were not for public consumption.
By 14:30 hours, the hall at Mass Media complex where the minister was supposed to address workers, whose protest had entered day two, was already filled.
But about an hour later, Mulenga sent her representative to deliver a message that she would only address the ZNBC staff when all journalists from private media had left.
However, Kampamba’s demand was met with resistance as the workers preferred that their colleagues from private media cover them.
“It is not fair, people need to learn what was going on at the station,” they said whilst encouraging their colleagues to stay put.
A group of unionized workers confronted the Labour Commissioner Chanda Kaziya demanding to know why the private media was being turned away when it was open to the public because the program appeared on the ZANIS diary.
But Kaziya said the minister was at liberty to decide who could cover the meetings.
“One of the the things you don’t determine and you should never even even attempt to determine is if she [the minister] wants the media to be there for you to be there. That is not your prerogative. If the minister is coming to see you it is not you to tell the media. If the minister wants to discuss with you, she will discuss with you on your terms. She is the one who determines which kind of media is going to be there. If you want private media to be in attendance then you report to the minister that ‘minister we are also going to have private media’ so that she is also prepared. You are the one who has invited the media. The minister has an option. You haven’t forced her to come [so] she has an option whether to come or not,” he said.
And speaking to journalists later on, Kaziya explained that the decision was not to demean the private media but to have a closed door meeting where workers would raise their issues.
“Usually if you invite the minister to a meeting like this by the trade union, she will determine the nature of what the discussion looks like. There are certain times when its a closed meeting. She wants to have a closed meeting that’s why she said lets take away the media. Its to have a closed door meeting first. The minister was not part of the ZANIS diaries [where the meeting was listed]. The closed door meeting means that the workers are going to raise issues that affect them and then after that the minister can issue a press statement where you [journalists] are invited. Where you can ask her more questions. This is not to demean the private media no,” said Kaziya.