Condemnation of threats to raid a radio station by UPND cadres in Central Province

MISA Zambia expresses its strong condemnation of the threats made by Mr. Fred Khunga, the United Party for National Development (UPND) Central Province Information and Publicity Secretary, to ransack a named radio station.

The articulated threats against the radio station constitute a serious violation of media freedom, compelling the affected media house to operate under fear. Utterances of this nature, especially from individuals in leadership positions within the Party, are unacceptable.

In an audio clip widely circulated on social media, Mr. Khunga expresses frustration with members of the public who participate in live radio programs, accusing them of being funded and using what he deems inappropriate language on air. Furthermore, he claims that the UPND in central province has been restraining its youth from raiding a named radio station but warns that this restraint may not always be upheld.

These threats by the Information and Publicity Secretary run contrary to the directives of the Republican President, H.E Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, who has consistently emphasized the need for media to operate freely without intimidation or harassment. Similarly, the Minister of Information and Media has reaffirmed that, under the new administration, no media house should face threats, harassment, intimidation, or closure for carrying out its professional duty of informing and educating the public.

MISA finds Mr. Khunga’s sentiments deeply disturbing and views them as a severe violation of freedom of expression and media rights that must not go unpunished. We call upon the Head of State and the UPND leadership to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure appropriate disciplinary measures are taken against the Information and Publicity Secretary.

In a democratic state like Zambia, media freedom is a cornerstone for democracy to thrive. The government’s robust decentralization policy, such as the implementation of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), depends significantly on the media’s role. Threatening the media, as exemplified by Mr. Khunga’s sentiments, jeopardizes the implementation of initiatives like the CDF, compelling the media to self-censor their programs.

We remind the UPND in Central Province that it was under the principles of freedom of expression and media that they were elected into office, and any abuse of this fundamental human right contradicts the values the party stands for.

The threats to disrupt radio programs by UPND sympathizers will not only violate media freedom but also impede people’s right to access information crucial for making informed decisions. We urge the government and the UPND leadership to address these issues promptly, emphasizing the importance of the media in sustaining democracy. It is disheartening to note that, after 59 years of Independence, Zambia still experiences attacks on media and freedom of expression.

Issued by

MISA Zambia

 

Lorraine Mwanza

Chairperson.

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