Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo says Prime TV’s letter of appeal to his Minister went missing after being received by a ministry official who did not sign it.
Meanwhile, Kasolo has asked stakeholders calling for the publication of the contents of the Access to Information Bill to be patient.
Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Frank on Hot Program, Tuesday, Kasolo said the said ministry official had been disciplined.
“It is not a futile exercise, what happened is that they wrote a letter to the minister and that letter got stamped at the ministry but no signature, we have had a look at that and it was a lapse by one of our administrative staff who did not sign with initials, because we always do that but they didn’t,” Kasolo said.
“And there is a disciplinary issue that is already being dealt with, we don’t let lapses like that go, so we have disciplined the person involved.”
He said Prime TV could be disciplined for leaking their appeal letter.
“But that letter somehow disappeared, it never got to the minister. We saw it online which was surprising because the application was to the minster and not online, not to the world. That’s a lesson again to other people who would get into trouble with the IBA, because you see, we could again discipline them for that,” he said.
“Because this thing is between the TV station and the minister, but my minister was not amused to see an appeal online when she hadn’t even received it. And to make matters worse, that appeal was not an appeal, the appeal has to address the issues, accept that you were found wanting and our defense is as follows. That’s how you appeal. But the minister has received the full appeal and she is reading it, so hopefully if she finds that they deserve to be forgiven, she may do that.”
Kasolo insisted that outcry over the suspension of Prime TV’s license on March 4 was out of ignorance.
“The outcry was from an uninformed position. I wish Zambians could read and understand issues before they comment on something or before they criticise, and it’s not only Zambians in this case, I had representation from the U.S embassy, representation from the European Union but in both cases I questioned if they had read the IBA Act in relation with the guidelines. Because if they had, their criticism and comments could have been totally different, they could have been none existent. We were extremely lenient, the offenses Prime TV had committed were grave. If I would have been there before, I would have suspended them even before but at the time, there was no PS to guide the IBA and the board that was there was tired,” Kasolo said.
“So I was surprised that the outcry was so loud, but it didn’t matter because I knew that I was right and when I am right, I just present facts. And if I present facts and someone punch holes in them, I would hold up my hands and say ‘ I am sorry,’ But on this, I was very right as chairperson of IBA to do what we did. The revenue loss of course, but if I commit a crime and the court throws me in for a month, can I blame them for losing revenue? No I can’t. They cannot blame IBA or anybody in the ministry of Broadcasting and Information. I think what we did was a lesson to all, and I think Prime TV will come back a better station because now they understand things more. They have had their journalists trained by ZAMCOM and IBA also did come in and we are hopeful that Prime TV now knows what to do, I hope Prime TV will follow the IBA Act and its provisions.”
And Kasolo said he could not comment on Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Lawrence Sichalwe’s pornographic video debacle as he did not know how far the police had gone with investigations.
He, however, condemned people who post pornography online saying children could easily access it.
“I think as a parent, it is disgusting that Zambians have fallen to the low depth of indignity, that they can go online and put pornography there which kids can see. For me as a parent, that’s a big worry. And the language being used is influencing the kids who think that it is acceptable. Can you call the state of the nation now as being upright? I doubt it. Where people now are watching homosexuality when this country on many occasions has refused to endorse that in constitution amendments. The churches have been mute on some of this issues, I think the Church must concentrate much on such issues. I am asking the church to concentrate on this, not only the politics,” said Kasolo.
“I do know that there were allegations against one of our cabinet ministers, of course he is like anybody else, subjected to the same laws. If I am found watching pornography and the Police catch me, they have every right and responsibility to take me to task. And I don’t know how far they have gone with that investigation, maybe they found that it was something that fell in his hands. Because the problem of the online media is that you may just open your phone and find that somebody has sent you pornography. But if that happens in someone’s presence, then I have broken the law, they will think that I have been watching that, it’s perception. But what must be understood is, if I responsibly try to remove that thing, then it’s a different case. But I can’t comment on that case because I don’t know how far the Police have gone.”
Meanwhile, Kasolo asked stakeholders calling for the publication of the contents of the Access to Information Bill to be patient.
Kasolo said there were a lot of process which the Bill had to undergo before the public had access to it.