Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) president Sean Tembo says it was his personal assistant who poured insults on PF Media Director Sunday Chanda, in the Dynamic Analysis Zambia Whatsapp group on Thursday last week.

In a statement, Monday, Tembo said the party had since suspended the PA for insulting Chanda and that a formal apology would be rendered to the PF Media Director.

“Regarding the alleged altercation that is said to have taken place with the PF Media Director, Mr. Sunday Chanda last week on Thursday, the Personal Assistant to the PeP President was in charge of the account at the time and it is with this PA that Mr. Sunday Chanda engaged in an exchange with. However, as soon as the admin of the group brought it to the attention of the PeP President that an exchange of inappropriate language had taken place in the group, the President immediately tendered his apology on behalf of the party to all the members of the said Whatsapp group. In addition, the party undertook a detailed review of the exchanges to determine whether the PA was in anyway culpable so that we could institute disciplinary measures,” Tembo stated.

“In this regard, the party yesterday came to the conclusion that the language used by the PA in the exchange with the PF Media Director Mr. Sunday Chanda was not acceptable and did not reflect the values and ethos of the party. We have since instituted a 30 days suspension with half pay on the PA to the PeP President and the PeP Media Director will soon be writing to the PF Media Director to tender a written apology on behalf of the party.”

He said his party officials were in the habit of straying from the social media guidelines outlined by the party.

“PeP has documented guidelines on what can be posted not only on the party’s social media platforms but also on all official social media platforms that that belong to the party and/or its officials. However, despite these strict written guidelines being in place, some of the party officials do occasionally stray. A case in point is when the personal assistant to the PeP President posted inappropriate statements regarding a traditional leader about two years ago. As soon as this was brought to the attention of the party, we made a public apology and also suspended the PA to the party President for one month,” Tembo stated.

Tembo accused News Diggers of publishing a biased report.

“It is worth noting that had News Diggers abided by good unbiased journalistic practices, and sought a comment from the party, we would have given them our account of events. However, News Diggers decided to shelve the good journalistic practices that they always preach about and went to press with a one-sided story. This brings into question whether News Diggers as an organisation or indeed any of its senior editors have personal beef with the PeP President which they feel the Sunday Chanda debacle had given them an opportunity to settle by giving a one-sided story to the public?” Tembo asked.

“As PeP we wish to empahsise that issues of abuse of power are not limited to government of the day only, but transcend across all aspects of our society including the media. Media institution such as News Diggers holds immense power especially on political figures such as the PeP President. It is our plea that the immense power that media institutions such as News Diggers hold, must be exercised reasonably, fairly and equitably by taking due care before publishing articles that border on personal integrity. In this regard, we hope that News Diggers will improve its editorial policy going forward by ensuring that they get both sides of the story before going to print, otherwise we may be compelled to believe that they too have been bought off by the silver and gold of the PF to destroy the opposition in Zambia.”

He said he hoped News Diggers was not one of the private media houses that had been bought by the PF to scandalise opposition leaders like himself.

“As PeP, we are fully aware of s number of supposedly independent private media institutions who are in the pocket of the PF, and in order to maintain a semblance of objectivity and mislead the public, they occasionally write against the PF in measured tones. We hope that News Diggers has not fallen in this abyss because it would be extremely tragic to the local media industry. A lot of citizens have been looking up to News Diggers for hope in objective reporting and it would really be sad if these vibrant young men and women sell their souls to the PF and its government for pieces of silver and gold,” stated Tembo.