CARITAS Zambia says it is extremely dangerous for Mufulira PF member of parliament Evans Chibanda to say only a member of the ruling party can be allowed to speak on radio in that area.
And Zitukule Consortium executive director Nicholas Phiri has wondered why Chibanda, who has State media at his disposal, wants to take over private media as well.
Last week, Chibanda said Radio Mafken was to blame for the chaos that occurred in the district because they hosted an opposition leader on the radio instead of the ruling party.
But commenting on the remarks, Caritas Zambia executive director Eugene Kabilika said the ruling party should be the last stakeholders to stifle other people’s freedoms.
“We are in a democratic state where any person is supposed to appear on radio and be able to share ideas. If the PF remembers very well, Michael Sata was given an opportunity of mobilizing his party during the time of Rupiah Banda. He went out to have meetings. It is strange that now the PF can turn round and say, ‘others cannot organize their party, they cannot be on radio.’ What are we creating, a One-Party-State? I think it is not good in a democratic state to begin to stifle other people’s freedoms. It is extremely dangerous in such a situation that we have because it creates an atmosphere of unfairness and when people are not treated fairly, sometimes, they resort to other means of trying to achieve their aspirations. PF should be the last ones to stifle others because they were in the opposition and they know what it means,” said Kabilika in an interview.
And in a separate interview, Phiri said it was not Chibanda’s place to decide who should feature on a media platform.
“Mufulira member of parliament has the Zambia National Broadcasting Services (ZNBC) at his disposal, ZANIS, Radio 1, 2 and 4. He has the whole array of media at his disposal and he wants to take over the private media? What is he doing to the people who want to hear a different voice? Is he suggesting that all the 17 million Zambians will listen to one voice, the voice of the PF, and the President? What nonsense is that? It is not up to the member of parliament to guard who a person should speak to, it is not up to him to censor what I say. It is useless for any leader worth their salt to say who the media should feature,” said Phiri.
Chibanda said as an incumbent, he was the only mandated politician to speak on radio, adding that there was nothing wrong with him campaigning as that was his privilege as sitting lawmaker.
“I spoke to the radio station manager and I said, ‘look, there is a law, which prescribes what time campaigns must take place’ simple and straightforward. I am blaming the radio station because even for them, they can’t allow somebody, who is a PF member, who doesn’t hold a seat to start campaigning. It is not right! I have blamed them where there are people, who are trying to dislodge us, who are going there to campaign. For me, I am prescribed by the law to be able to go on the radio station to talk about what I am doing because for now, I am the elected representative of that constituency. So, unfortunately, if I have that privilege to seem like I am campaigning, it is the advantage as the incumbent,” said Chibanda.