Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya says PF secretary general Davies Mwila will on Tuesday meet Prime Television management to discuss the matter in which the SG chased some journalists from his press briefing.
And Siliya has accused some opposition leaders of blowing the “misunderstanding” between Mwila and the journalists out of proportion and using it to gain political mileage.
On Saturday afternoon, Mwila attacked Prime TV journalists Njenje Chizu and Toliwe Chanda, who had gone to cover the expulsion of Bahati PF member of parliament Harry Kalaba from the Patriotic Front, and warned them never to show themselves anywhere he was addressing the media, claiming that Prime TV hated the ruling party.
This happened in full view of other Patriotic Front party officials and some Cabinet Ministers among them, Labour Minister Joyce Simukoko and Fisheries and Livestock Minister Kampamba Mulenga.
In a statement, Monday, Siliya described the action by Mwila as a “simple misunderstanding”, which some politicians in the opposition were blowing out of proportion just to gain political mileage.
“Government has observed with great concern that a simple misunderstanding between the Patriotic Front Secretary General and Prime TV journalists is being used for political mileage by some opposition leaders. Let me state that the PF and its government have championed freedom of the press and the right for journalists to practice without fear or favour from its inception. It is for this reason that government has made great progress in consultations with stakeholders over the Access to Information Bill in readiness for presentation to Parliament. The government is also working very closely with media leaders to see the Media Council come into fruition with its greatest role being that of setting standards for journalists and also to protect journalists from those who may hinder their professional practice,” Siliya stated.
She added that the PF CEO was eager to meet Prime TV management to find an amicable solution to the matter.
“The matter at hand, which is an isolated incident, is merely a misunderstanding of which I believe will be resolved amicably. The PF Secretary General Hon. Davies Mwila is eager to meet with Prime TV to discuss the matter on Tuesday, once again displaying the PF leadership commitment to the media in Zambia. As Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services, we remain charged and committed to the professional welfare of all media practitioners in Zambia in spite of which organisation they work for,” stated Siliya.
“You all recall that our Republican Constitution in Article 20 states: ‘Except with his own consent, a person shall not be hindered in protection of the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say; freedom to hold opinions without interference; freedom to receive ideas and information without interference; freedom to impart and communicate ideas and information without interference; whether the communication be to the public, generally, or to any person or class of persons, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.’ Therefore, I have heard the discourse going on, on different media platforms, concerning alleged harassment of journalists, and I decided to assure you that the Patriotic Front and, indeed, government will not depart from the ideals of freedom of expression.”