MUSICIAN Chama Fumba commonly known as Pilato says Topstar’s decision to remove Prime Television from its platforms is a bad move, adding the country stands to lose if the station is pushed out of business at such a critical time.
And Fumba has appealed to President Edgar Lungu to advise the Ministry of Information to relax its push on the television station whose sole survival depends on adverts.
On March 27, Topstar removed Prime Television from all its platforms in accordance with Information Minister Dora Siliya’s directive that all government entities must cease any business with the station.
And in his open letter to President Lungu, Fumba expressed his support for the President’s efforts in addressing the Coronavirus as well as measures put in place to deal with the crisis.
He noted that although he did not support Prime Television Proprietor Gerald Shawa’s refusal to air free COVID 19 adverts, his apology was timely.
“I am writing as a citizen of this beautiful country where you are the President. I am writing to express my support for your efforts in addressing the Coronavirus and the measures put in place to deal with this crisis. I do strongly believe that this is that moment when ideological differences and political favouritism must be put aside and for citizens to come together and push a single agenda. In pursuit for this, it is critical that we do not lose focus on the main goal no matter the temptation. By means of this open letter, I am offering my solidarity in full and call up on other well meaning citizens to step up and join the fight against Covid 19,” he stated.
“I do not agree or support the decision that was expressed by the company’s CEO, Mr. Shawa and if I could be allowed some generosity to describe it, I would call it, shallow and stupid. The decision by the Prime Television boss was not the best things he made and I understand after a good clean reflection, he came back and apologised. The apology by Mr. Shawa was timely and I believe welcomed by many. It is therefore, very disturbing and a drawback to see the attached letter where TopStar has decided to implement a government decision against their own citizen and a Zambian business. The move to suspend the flight of Prime TV signal on Topstar Platforms is a bad move and may instead deepen the ideological divides that may have been in existence before now. We must take every opportunity to work with everyone especially at this point. When governments fight their citizens, it is usually governments that lose. The fight against Covid 19 is not a fight for the government alone but a fight for every human being alive today. Let’s do this together, we can fight afterwards.”
He noted that Prime Television and its staff remained tax payers, adding that if the television station was disadvantaged and pushed out of business at a critical time as now, the country would stand to lose.
“It is my considered view that while Prime Television may have the privilege to reflect the emotions of their boss, a government may not have that privilege against its citizen. Think about this Prime Television and its staff remain tax payers to the government and which your government needs to function. If this single player is disadvantaged and pushed out of business at a critical time as this, we all stand to lose as a country,” Fumba stated.
“As a neoclassical realist myself I am persuaded to see nothing but a contest of power between a government and a private citizen. This is a view that may be challenged by those involved but from where I stand it’s clear the government wants to show power to Prime Television boss who the real boss is. Mr. President this cannot be allowed to happen or be left unchallenged when its happening at a time the country is in desperate need of unity of purpose. Power balancing works better when played amongst equal players.”
He urged TopStar to reverse its decision to remove Prime Television from their platform, saying it compromised the collective effort in addressing the Covid 19.
Fumba charged that a government funded by taxpayers could not make emotional decisions that may disadvantage taxpayers who relied on a private institution for critical information.
“My advice in this situation is that TopStar should reverse its decision as it compromises the collective effort in addressing a common enemy we now have in name of Covid 19. The government of Zambia does need Prime Television because it is a confirmed force in information dissemination and that is very critical at this point. The government funded by taxpayers cannot make emotional decisions that may disadvantage taxpayers who rely on a private institution for critical information,” he stated.
“My prayer and wish is that you Mr. President prevail on this and advise the ministry of communication to relax its push on a small Television station whose sole survival depends on adverts. And to also advise TopStar to withdraw their letter suspending Prime Television from their platform.”
He further appealed to government and the public to resist anything and anyone who tried to break them at a moment when the country was threatened by a dangerous pandemic.
And to Shawa, Fumba stated that, “As your business grows so is its influence and as that grows, you and your business become not just your thing but an institution collectively owned with the public. The growth of Prime Television inadvertently makes you accountable to us the Zambian public and to humanity in general therefore, the decisions that you make must reflect our collective belief in the values we espouse as a people.”