Prime Television Director Gerald Shawa says the manner in which PF Secretary General Davies Mwila chased two Prime TV reporters from covering his briefing on Saturday was un-procedural, undemocratic and totalitarian.
In a letter addressed to Mwila and dated January 28, 2018, Shawa said the PF chief executive officer’s conduct had potential to subject his journalists to unwarranted political attacks, especially from PF cadres.
“Unfortunately, you have opted to use a more un-procedural way which to us is unfortunate, undemocratic and totalitarian in that it may subject our journalists to unwarranted political attacks especially attacks from the Patriotic Front cadres.It is our considered view that the approach you took is not only undemocratic, but is a serious indictment on the freedom of the media. While you have the right not to be covered if you so wish, it is Prime TV’s policy to provide a platform for all political parties without bias,” Shawa stated in the letter, which he copied to the Ministry of Information, IBA and to MISA.
Shawa stated that it was unfortunate that despite Prime TV being an independent media and registered under the laws of Zambia, Mwila still went ahead and banned the TV journalists from covering all PF functions.
“It is with a heavy heart that we write your office on a matter in which you publicly chased Prime TV journalists from your Press Conference on Saturday 26th January 2019 and later on, decisively, barred Prime Television from covering all your party functions. As a broadcast institution registered to operate independently under the laws of Zambia, we find the idea to chase our journalists and the decisive submission to bar Prime Television from covering all PF functions unfortunate,” Shawa stated.
“Given your Party Position as Secretary General, and Knowing that you come from the ruling party which should lead by example by following the law ,it is sad that you opted to ignore the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) complaints procedure, which requires that you tender a formal complaint to a broadcast institution ,which complaint is supposed to be addressed within 14 days ,upon which you are free to bring it to the attention of the IBA after 14 days ,where you feel that that Broadcast institution has failed to adequately address your complaint. The above procedure is a requirement for all those who feel aggrieved on a matter of broadcasting.”
He stated that as a commercial TV station, PF just like any other political party was free to sponsor their activities to be broadcast by the station.
“We also wish to bring to your attention that Prime TV is a commercial Television station where all those wishing to have sponsored programs are free to come and have their programs paid for as many times as they can just like your party has previously on the same platform. As you may have observed, many political parties have been sponsoring their press conferences to air and this is done in a business sense. We wish to urge you to follow the law as you make further complaints of a coverage nature and those complaints should be in compliance with sections (33-38) of IBA Act 2002. As a media house , we still hold you in high esteem and pray that this misunderstanding you have raised is resolved promptly in a formal and civil manner,” stated Shawa.
And Mwila yesterday met MISA Zambia at the PF secretariat to discuss his concerns on the ruling party’s relationship with Prime TV.
This is according to a statement issued by PF media director Sunday Chanda.
“The meeting was honest and fruitful. MISA Zambia will continue engaging both the ruling Party and Prime TV in order to find common ground. In accordance with the PF Manifesto, our party will continue to build upon its record as a champion of a vibrant media, as evidenced by the operationalisation the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) in 2013 (which had remained inoperable since 2002) and the unprecedented issuance of broadcasting licenses to establish radio and television station across Zambia to more than 52 radio and 33 television licenses including Prime TV. PF continues to respect the media and the role it plays in our democracy as the fourth estate,” stated Chanda.