ZAMBIA’S former Ambassador to Ethiopia Emmanuel Mwamba says the leaked telephone conversation between two senior government officials exposed the state’s interference in the affairs of the opposition.
And a Lawyer from K Mwale and Company, representing Kenmark Broadcasting Network (KBN TV), says a position on the matter will be made once they receive instructions from the client.
Addressing journalists when he went to offer solidarity to KBN TV Station Manager Petty Chanda who was summoned by police in relation to the leaked audio, Thursday, Mwamba said police’s decision to summon the KBN TV station manager was an attempt to shut them up so that the country did not debate the crimes which the audio exposed.
“When the President was in opposition, it is the media that sustained him and his agenda. He appeared on numerous radio platforms across the country. The Patriotic Front left at least 120 radio stations and over 40 TV stations. There is a narrative that has emerged that there was no democracy, of course that is not true. Many people, including the President appeared on those radio and TV stations. It is therefore regrettable that whilst he has assumed office, he does not want to allow the opposition on those platforms but accusing them that they are a clique or corrupt or fostering a corruption agenda,” he said.
“The summoning of KBN managers for merely airing news content they found news worthy, in their estimation they thought the news was correct, is to principles we apply to any material we receive before airing. I believe KBN like any other media house must have determined that the content was legitimate and needed exposure for public and national interest. So the action by government and the police to summon KBN is an attempt to shut them up so that we do not have debate on the crimes that audio has exposed.”
Mwamba said the police must be preoccupied with individuals named in the leaked audio, stating that KBN TV was just a whistleblower.
“There are serious crimes that that audio has exposed. The state is interfering and meddling in affairs of the opposition. They are undermining the opposition and they are using state institutions such as ECZ, the Registrar of Societies and Home Affairs to undermine the work of the opposition. That is the crime we need to be prioritising and not KBN who is a whistleblower. Is audio content and are the subjects that have been named the actual individuals speaking in the audio? Those are the matters the police must be preoccupied with and not involving the media. The media are just given these materials whether leaked or obtained. They are just given to air because it has a connotation of national interest,” he said.
“So what is worrying about the actual interrogations should have started with Mr Levy Ngoma and the permanent secretary. Many news organisations have since aired that item and even the newspapers have covered that item. So many journalists and news outlets have in their estimation as journalists understood that that content is genuine. That is why we should move to the next stage which is to investigate why the State House is abusing state institutions to cripple the opposition. On the audio itself, for me it brings a new issue.”
Mwamba also questioned the use of some technology which was recording private calls by the state.
“There is a technical infrastructure that is snooping on private calls and recording texts. In a democracy, we need to debate that. What are the limits of state institutions in relation to your right to privacy and private conversations? Should the state eavesdrop even in your conversations? So this matter even raises a bigger debate. Maybe the bigger debate we should be asking is just on the nature of the state and its devices and the rights of citizens,” said Mwamba.
“The PS and State House seem to have committed a crime. The use of state facilities to snoop on citizens in a democracy, that needs to be questioned. Zambians want change in the manner we do things. The wrongs under PF remain wrongs when done by UPND. You cannot fight corruption using corruption. I think we should do as Zambians wish that there should be a fresh start and respect to institutions of democracy.”
Meanwhile, Miracle Chungu, a lawyer representing KBN TV, said a position on the matter would be made once they received instructions from the client.
“Of course the Station Manager was summoned at force headquarters and we arrived there at 8:45 hours. We came out past lunch. Then on what transpired and what our next step is going to be, we are still sitting with our client that is KBN TV. We will be able to give our position once we receive full instructions,” said Chungu.
And when asked to confirm whether the interrogations were in relation to the leaked audio which was televised on the channel, Chungu said he could not confirm.
“No, I cannot confirm that. Most definitely, we will give our position within 48 hours. We would have spoken with our clients and we would have arrived at a decision. The way forward will then be advised thereafter,” said Chungu.
On Tuesday, KBN TV televised an audio in which Ministry of Home Affairs permanent secretary for administration Joseph Akafumba and Special Assistant to the President for Politics Levy Ngoma are heard plotting how to handle some leadership wrangles in the Democratic Party.