Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Chairperson Hellen Mwale says politicians should understand that it is not the media that propagates hate speech as they are the ones who use the media to drive their political agendas.

Reacting to threats by PF National Women Chairperson Jean Kapata that her party will be left with no option but to shut down Prime TV if it continued to promote hate speech, Mwale said MISA was studying the matter as well as trying to engage the TV stations.

In an interview, Mwale also urged politicians to understand that not everybody would sing their praises.

“First of all we need to understand the context in which these things were said. We know for sure that Ms [Jean] Kapata is one of those politicians that believe in media development and professionalism of the media. So for her to issue threats to Prime TV I think it’s something new and we would want to know what led to that. Her concern was that Prime TV are featuring or airing stories that somehow seem disparaging to the Head of State,” Mwale said.

“I think also as MISA, we have taken time to just study what she said. However we are still investigating, we are talking to Prime TV on the same because really for Ms Kapata to say that Prime TV will be closed, who closes? Is it a politician who closes a TV station? Or IBA or who? First of all those are the things that we need to understand. But on what grounds?”

He asked politicians to respect diverging views.

“One thing that we would want to encourage our politicians is also to accept that we have critical views, critical minds out there. Not everybody will be singing praises but some people would want to criticize in a more constructive and positive manner. We do not allow criticism that is going to destroy or dent the image of somebody else but we allow criticism that builds and that gives guidance,” said Mwale.

“So for Prime TV, I think as MISA we are still talking to them because we don’t know whether the allegations are true or not but we are still talking to them and you will be informed once we conclude our investigations. So our appeal to politicians is for them to also understand that there are different views out there. So sometimes they should take heart. Our role as the media is to inform and educate. We are not political players in any way, we do not encourage. But it is them the politicians that come to use the media to propagate their political agendas. So I think politicians should also refrain from using the media to propagate their political agendas. They should instead try to build a more professional and solid media in this country.”