State House spokesperson Amos Chanda says President Edgar Lungu is extremely puzzled as to why there is so much police inaction against crimes committed by PF cadres.
Chanda told journalists yesterday that President Lungu was against the attacks on radio stations this past week because he believed media freedom is supposed to be guaranteed before and after publication.
“The President is extremely puzzled as to why there is so much police inaction if these crimes are being committed and it has been established that the Radio stations were stormed. Individuals are quoted, why is the police not acting on clear breaches of the law?” Chanda asked.
“Who is preventing police action and why would the police not take charge of the situation? We do not what to appear to be issuing instructions from here on a daily basis but police are expected to exercise good judgement and ensure that they act on any breeches regardless of their origin. The two incidents that have occurred in the past week regarding suspected PF cadres storming Power FM in Kabwe and Radio Maria in Chipata are totally unacceptable! State House finds the behavior very abhorrent and a clear departure from the manifesto provisions and the information and media policy of the President is that the media must enjoy unfettered freedom to publish what they so please. In an event that a breach has occurred when the media are publishing what they are publishing, the due process of the law rather than rule by a mob must prevail.”
Chanda said President Lungu had instructed PF secretary general Davies Mwila to emphasize that the party was guided by a set of principles under which media freedom was respected.
“Therefore, the President has observed with great disappointment that the actions, in the name of the party are being undertaken, to storm radio stations, harass journalists and attempt to take the law into their hands. So those individuals, be they ordinary members of society, be they members of the PF are not above the law. The President has emphasized that nothing must be committed in the name of his party, the PF, particularly actions that depart from his stated principle of plularism and tolerance and particularly the President’s strong believe in freedom of the press…there must be freedom before and after publishing so part from instructing the Secretary General to again reinforce the message that the Patriotic Front is guided by a set of principles, policies and values on each and every subject,” said Chanda.
“On the question on media freedom, the President says both government and the party are very clear where they stand so he strongly disapproves of these actions that may have occurred in the name of the party and government. Those who commit those crimes are on their own.”
On Wednesday night, a horde of PF cadres led by Eastern Province treasurer Zephaniah Mwale stormed Radio Maria in Chipata District, threatening to burn down the station for featuring Maxon Nkhoma, a governance activist and supporter of aspiring Provincial chair Elias Banda alias Eliboma.
The cadres also issued death threats against Radio Maria news editor Tobias Daka and anchor of the programme, which featured Nkhoma, urging him to find personal security to accompany him whenever he leaves his home.
And on Monday, some PF cadres stormed Power FM in Kabwe and stopped a live radio programme on which NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili was denouncing corruption amongst government officials.
In both instances, no arrests were made.