Lusaka – Former minister of information and broadcasting services, Mike Mulongti, has claimed that Zambia's ruling party intentionally "censored" the media in order to hide its dirty secrets, reports The Post.
Also read: PF won't be re-elected, says MP Muchina.
Mulongti said the Patriotic Front (PF) government exercised censorship because they were unable to defend their policies. This, he said, affected the media’s progression.
Mulongti also accused public media institutions of allowing government to control them.
The former minister’s remarks came as “brutal attacks” on journalists escalated in the southern African country.
Two journalists, one from The Post and another, from Feel Free Radio station were reportedly beaten up by PF cadres last week.
An attempt was also made to burn the two journalists to death, The Post reported on Monday.
In a letter to the General Director of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC), Richard Mwanza, Mulongti said his (Mwanza's) role as a policy maker within the news agency showed that they was controlled by the government.
“…[The] ZNBC can’t tick because you are asking a policymaker to run ZNBC; that’s not the role of a policymaker. The minister’s role is to make policies but ZNBC’s role is to manage that institution. He has been silent over that,” Mulongoti, the People’s Party leader, said.
The Global Voices Advocacy group dedicated to protecting freedom of expression reported in April 2014 that journalists working for the national broadcaster could be facing dire consequences over the nature of their reporting due to the implementation of new disciplinary regulations.
According to ZNBC Board Chairperson, John Mulwila, the new regulations would mean a journalist seen as breaching new editorial policies would not only face internal disciplinary action but could be charged according to the law.
“… [T]he provisions contained are also binding on external interest groups or individuals. Those who abrogate these provisions shall be dealt with according to provisions of the Laws of Zambia and other media regulatory bodies.,” said Mulwila was quoted as saying at the time.
Press Association of Zambia president, Andrew Sakala, expressed fear over this new policy and wished for a copy saying this could mean media freedom being stifled.
The Panos Institute Southern Africa which is a regional communication for development non-governmental organisation based in Lusaka also had their say.
A strong media is critical to the development & prosperity of #Zambia. We'll play our role to support #mediafreedom https://t.co/GYvVzXNryi