UPND President Hakainde Hichilema has condemned the harassment of two Prime TV journalists by PF Secretary General Davies Mwila saying media practitioners need support in order for democracy to function.

In a video statement, Hichilema said in today’s modern world, it was impossible to gag the media.

“It’s a sad situation, it was sad to watch that news clip. In today’s Zambia, in today’s World, where basic human rights, liberties and freedoms, and those freedoms include media freedoms, freedom of expression, I do not expect anybody to conduct themselves in that way, honestly speaking. Not just the act of removing journalists, but the manner in which it was done is most unfortunate. And I think we should not encourage or conduct ourselves in that manner going forward. The media should be free to talk to all of us. It’s the obligation that the media has to ask us questions but even if they ask us questions that are not comfortable, it is our duty to answer the questions politely, maybe firmly, but politely, because that’s what is enshrined in the Universal Human Rights, liberties and freedoms,” said Hichilema.

“The media is just the carrier of the message, it’s a transitory platform for messages and they must not be treated like that, they must be protected if anything, they must be given support if anything and I think that’s the only that democracy like ours can function. Otherwise, how do people hear different views without the media? Otherwise people will make decisions based on one sided view, maybe a blared view. But the media gives you a complete view and we must give the media the respect that they deserve. And I believe that what was done yesterday (Saturday last week), will be rescinded very soon and because it cannot continue. And it’s not even possible to gag the media in today’s electronic age, how can you gag the media? If the PF are not interviewed openly, whoever interviews them, the media will pick them information and make it public. Let’s support each other and be humane to each other.”

And Southern Africa Network Against Corruption (SANAC) executive director Gregory Chifire said Mwila’s actions had potential to breed violence against journalists.

“The Southern African Network Against Corruption (SANAC) wishes to condemn the harassment of Prime TV journalists by the Patriotic Front (PF) Secretary General Mr. Davies Mwila at a media briefing yesterday, as it is an affront to media freedom and breeds fertile ground for violence against journalists and reporters. Mr. Mwila as Chief Executive of the governing party, owes every citizen a duty of care because his office wields immense influence both in his party and the nation at large, and his utterance at the media briefing amount to an indirect instruction to Members of the PF to mistreat or abuse Prime TV Journalists and Reporters,” Chifire said.

“At the time that the World is still shocked with the death of Ahmed Hussein-Suale Divela, a Ghanian Investigative Journalist who was by two gun men in Accra a few days ago, despite Ghana being considered a country with the most press freedom in Africa, Mr. Mwila’s utterances have put the lives of Journalists and Reporters from Prime TV and other Private Media institutions in harm’s way. We are also anxious to see how the minister of information, Miss Dora Siliya will come to the support and defense of the harassed journalists because it is her duty to protect the media in entity regardless of whether private or public. It is our wish that the PF will reconciled with Prime TV because the Party in general and Mr. Mwila as a person will never win a war against journalists. Mr.Mwila must trade carefully because in the similar manner that the media promoted him, can also demote him,”

And Chifire appealed to President Edgar Lungu to admonish Mwila.

“We are sure that the Republican President who is also President of the Patriotic Front, Mr. Edgar Lungu is embarrassed by the behaviour of his Chief Executive because we know that the President would never do such a thing. As a matter of good will, we ask President Lungu to strongly admonish Mr. Mwila for this harassment. SANAC is aware that towards the end of the Multi Party reign, a provincial youth chairman for Lusaka Province, Chris Chalwa was convicted by the Lusaka Magistrate Court for assaulting two Journalists, namely Chibabula Silwamba of the Post Newspaper and Anthony Mulowa of the Times of Zambia at the Lusaka International Airport. The PF must learn from the form ruling party and desist from inciting violence against journalists,” said Chifire.