Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Dora Siliya has asked Zambians to ignore politicians who are misleading the country by purporting that institutions like the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) have been sold.

Siliya said ZNBC, Star Times had not become one company but were merely collaborating in a joint venture which had resulted in the creation of Topstar.

“Indeed ZNBC has got shares in DSTV and also in GoTV, as well as Topstar now. For the record, ZNBC is a statutory body which was created by this House and any change of shareholding in that institution would have to be made by this House. So it’s not possible that any other institution can have shares in ZNBC because ZNBC belongs 100 per cent to the people of Zambia. ZNBC as an institution can do business and acquire shares in other interests but nobody can acquire shares in ZNBC because it was created through an Act of Parliament and under Cap 154 of the laws of Zamnbia. So unless we in this House decided to change that status, it is not possible that anyone else can have shares in ZNBC. And for the record, Topstar has no shares in ZNBC, but ZNBC has got 40 per cent shares in Topstar and in Star times ZNBC has got 60 per cent. So this misinformation is merely smear campaign against the people of Zambia because ZNBC is owned by Zambians and it was created by the representatives of the people of Zambia in this House. So any move away from that position is an affront from the people Zambia,” Siliya explained.

And responding to Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu, who in his question insisted that the minister had confirmed the sell of ZNBC by admitting that the public broadcaster had merged with Star Times to come up with Topstar, Silya expressed displeasure and questioned his understanding of the law.

“Clearly, law is not an exact science because if it was, we would not be having this debate. ZNBC is a statutory body. None of it’s shares have been given to anybody because it was created by an Act of Parliament. If the member of parliament pays attention, he would avoid being misled. ZNBC has not merged with Topstar. But what has happened is that ZNBC through a company called Star Times created a new entity called Topstar. And I am sure in legal language that is very clear. So in this case, ZNBC remains 100 per cent an independent entity but it has interests as provided… the CPCC law, that ‘it’s interests can merge with interest of another institution and they can create a new body called Topstar’ and this is under the company’s Act. ZNBC remains as a whole as a statutory body under Cap 154 of the laws of Zambia. I am sure it’s very clear now Mr Speaker,” she explained.

Meanwhile, in apparent reference to the opposition MPs, Siliya cautioned Zambians not to listen to politicians who were spreading falsehoods.

“As government, we’re telling the Zambians to be careful what they read online because for some people what they read online is taken as Gospel truth and they want to bring it to this House. As citizens, we have to be careful that we can be misled. This is why we are providing for laws so that we bring to book those that want to mislead the citizens. It may be on a simple thing today but tomorrow it will be on something big we can see that even internationally. Many governments are challenged with fake news, propaganda and as citizens, we have to refute the information,” said Siliya.

“So as citizens, we all have to be aware that sometimes as citizens, we all have to be aware of people are posturing with passion and want to make us believe that they are telling the truth but sometimes they are just posturing and they could be trying to mislead this country. And the ZNBC case was classic example where even members of parliament who should know the law where the ones in the forefront telling citizens that ZNBC has been sold. So we have to call out those people who like to posture in this House, that those are bad politics and citizens should see them for who they are, that they are just people who like to posture and they are not decent politicians.”