FREE Press Initiative (FPI) Zambia says it expected the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to strongly condemn attacks on radio stations by political party cadres instead of advising them to air pre-recorded programs.
Last week, the IBA said radio and television stations should interview certain sources from their homes and thereafter air pre-recorded programs in order to avoid attacks after the authority was asked to comment on Muchinga PF cadres’ conduct.
But in an interview, Chirwa said the statement was disturbing.
“That statement was really disturbing. I didn’t expect that from the IBA firstly as a journalist and also as the founder off the FPI. It was really shocking to get something of that sort from the IBA. We expected something so strong against the perpetrators of violence on radio stations that is political violence but unfortunately, it has extended to the media. That is very bad and it is something that should worry the IBA. But then something of that sort happens, the least they can say is tell these radio stations to go and pre-record those programs and air them to avoid being attacked. Having something of that sort should tell you that there is no freedom of the press because if you are going to do that, where media people are being told to do pre-recorded programs, then it means the media freedom we talk about is non-existent,” Chirwa said.
She, however, commended Minister of Information and Broadcasting Dora Siliya for speaking strongly against such attacks.
“But to the contrary, you saw the strong statement from the Minister of Information and Broadcasting that is what you expect. She said let the violence be condemned, it was condemned and she kept on condemning it. She was consistent for three consistent days and actually called on the police to arrest the perpetrators because she knows them. Whether or not that will go beyond her and we will see these people arrested is a story for another day and we have said ‘let that be done.’ It shouldn’t end at her issuing those nice statements the best she can do is to make sure that the statement she issues actually urging the police to go further and arrest these people should be acted upon. That should be done, it must be done as soon as possible,” said Chirwa.
“We shouldn’t take this harassment by political party cadres as the new normal, it shouldn’t be. We cannot accept that something should keep going on where there are suggestions should be ‘you air pre-recorded programs’ no that is absolutely not right. Those are things that must be stopped, the earlier they are stopped even the better. That is what we should be talking about right now.”