Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed shock at what they termed
"misleading charges" slammed on Post news editor Chansa Kabwela.
of IFJ Africa Office Gabriel Baglo called on the government to drop the
prosecution of Kabwela.
"We are shocked by the misleading charges slammed
on our colleague," Baglo said. "She only made a perfectly ethical and
considerate judgment to alert the authorities to the public health crisis. She
has no case to answer and charges against her must be dropped."
said the charges against Kabwela were the more baffling because she deliberately
chose not to publish the alleged material and, instead, sent it to the
"The government is seeking to make media a scapegoat to
blame for the terrible state of the health care in Zambia," Baglo said. "They
are simply blaming the messenger because they do not like the
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries
Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia national director Hewitt Chizyuka
called upon the government to condemn the harassment of Post journalists and
drop unfair charges against Kabwela.
Closing a three-day management
workshop for community radio stations organised by MISA Zambia and other
cooperating partners in Livingstone last Wednesday, Chizyuka appealed to
journalists not to be used by people to settle personal or political
"Realising long before, that a vibrant, free pluralistic and
diverse media is at the very fabric of democratic governance, we stand resolved
to continue promoting media freedom, and henceforth call upon government to
openly condemn the harassment of the media and demonstrate commitment to this by
dropping all unfair charges and court cases against media personnel," Chizyuka
said. "In the same vein, we urge all political parties to restrain their cadres
from harassing media personnel."
He told acting Southern Province
permanent secretary Emmanuel Nchima, who represented permanent secretary Darius
Hakayobe, that in Livingstone a journalist of a named independent paper was
recently a victim of harassment and that the situation risked getting out of
"On behalf of MISA Zambia I wish to categorically condemn
manoeuvres to intimidate the media through unnecessary court actions, arrests
and beatings of media personnel and continued threats to close down media houses
that offer a platform for critical voices, ambiguous and restrictive laws such
as those dealing with pornography," he said. "The so-called 'insult' laws and
many others need to be reviewed and clearly defined so as to improve the media
environment in which we operate. These laws date as far back as 1910 and 1920
and our present environment is different."
Chizyuka said the lack of the
implementation of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act and the Zambia
National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) Act was worrying.
continue to hide our concern about the lack of implementation of the Independent
Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act and the ZNBC Act. These laws will improve the
media independence and impartiality of the broadcasting media in the country and
there is no reason for further delays in operationalsisng them. We may all know
that a free and more independent public broadcasting is guaranteed under the
ZNBC Act, while the IBA Act enhances the independence of the entire broadcasting
sector," Chizyuka said. "There is no justifiable reason why the two Acts cannot
be operationalised. ZNBC still continue to be under the control of government
even when the current law, as enacted by Parliament , says otherwise. Similarly
the ministry of information continues to control the issuance of broadcasting
licenses when the IBA Act as an independent body should do so."
said Zambians needed to be ashamed that they continued to drag their feet over
straightforward legislation aimed at not only improving the operating
environment for the media but also strengthening the country's democratic
He urged personnel from the three radio stations in Southern
Province - Musi-o-Tunya, Zambezi FM of Livingstone and Sky FM of Monze - that
attended the management training workshop to take the training as an enhancement
tool for good governance.
"The role of that radio station play in the
democratic governance of this country cannot be over-emphasised. Sky FM Radio
has made free speech a reality through its Sky Forum here in Southern Province
and parts of Lusaka. It is therefore important that the radio stations
strengthen their own self-sustainability and independence," he
Chizyuka urged the media in Zambia to be fair, accurate, impartial
and truthful in their reporting.
Chizyuka revealed that MISA had
purchased broadcasting equipment for 15 community radio stations and was in the
process of buying more equipment for eight other stations to improve the radio
And Nchima said government had observed that most media houses
lacked editorial polices, well-defined mission statements and outlined
"Media is a good platform for information dissemination, but it
is sad to note that some media personnel in Zambia are mishandling vital
information in their coverage. With this regard, training remains a major
concern in all media houses in the country if we are to overcome this. I
therefore, appeal to you MISA to take training of media personnel seriously and
make it an ongoing programme so that press freedom is understood by all
stakeholders," he said.
Nchima said the government was aware of the
struggles that community radio stations faced in resource