THE Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) says it will not rush to condemn the disruption of a programme on Radio Luswepo based on social media commentaries before its investigations are concluded.
And Luswepo news editor Levis Simusokwe says PF cadres damaged a wire fence at the station just to stop Democratic Party president Harry Kalaba from featuring on a radio programme on Sunday.
Commenting on the incident, IBA Director General Josephine Mapoma said the Authority had instituted investigations into the violence before stating its full position on the development.
“We have received reports that have happened in about three places and we will see what we can do about it. MISA Zambia might condemn it very quickly, but for us, we don’t condemn until we have investigated because we are a regulator. We cannot condemn just because we have seen it on social media. I think you can indicate that the IBA is investigating the matter that has been reported to them by other people,” Mapoma said in an interview.
She, however, said that the Authority was in contact with government agencies to heighten security measures within media houses.
“We are in contact with all the agencies of government to indicate that their media houses should be protected and that political parties, regardless of what they are, if they have done a paid-for programme, they should be allowed to finish that programme. They can only be cut-off if they are not professional in their conduct or talking about other individuals that are not present during that interview. The stand of the IBA is that anyone who has done a paid-for programme should not be disturbed by any person or any political party,” Mapoma added.
“They should not be stopped by unruly elements! I would not know which unruly elements these are, I don’t know if they are political parties. All I know is that it is some Zambians that may not like me; they come and disturb the programme. I think you are aware that we had a meeting with UNDP where we made resolutions, with all the media houses on the way forward that the media houses, including the journalists, should be protected from harassment by anybody. Even the police, you do recall they came for that meeting.”
Mapoma insisted that radio stations should engage the police if they were airing a programme that could potentially jeopardise staff safety and security.
“Ever since the establishment of IBA, we have been engaging radio stations. I was in Chinsali (District) and I told the radio stations that if you have a programme that you think people may come and give you problems, call the police and the police can help you. In Chinsali, for example, I can confirm that the police are vigilant. Once they are told by the station manager, they will make sure that they protect the premises so that certain elements do not disturb the programme. So, we are engaging everybody at the provincial-level, including commanding officers, to see a way forward because we want the elections in August to be attack-free,” said Mapoma.
And in a separate interview, Simusokwe disclosed that there were over 10 cadres that stormed the station and damaged private property.
“Yesterday, (Sunday) Radio Luswepo had Harry Kalaba, the DP president. We received PF cadres, who came and demanded that the programme be stopped! When the PF cadres reached the gate, they found that the gate was locked, they cut the wire fence and the lock on the gate was also cut. There were more than 10! After 10 minutes, we received the police who came and fired gunshots and some of the PF cadres ran away and some are in police custody,” narrated Simusokwe.
Meanwhile, Northern Province Police Commissioner Jestus Nsokolo said that four people were apprehended and charged with conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
He could not, however, reveal which political party the cadres belonged to, explaining that he was still awaiting full details by press time.