Zambia: Scribes Cry Foul

Photo: Tami Hultman/AllAfrica
Amadou Mahtar Ba, chief executive officer of the African Media Initiative and chair of AllAfrica Global Media.

MEDIA bodies have petitioned Government to ensure the safety of journalists in the course of covering political events.

The Media Liaison Committee (MLC) presented the petition to Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Kennedy Sakeni in Lusaka yesterday against continued harassment of practitioners by some political activists.

MLC comprises the Press Association of Zambia , Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia Chapter, Press Freedom Committee of the Post Newspapers and the Catholic Media Services.

Others are Zambia Union of Journalists, Zambia Union of Broadcasting and Other information Disseminators, Zambia Women Media Association, Panos Institute of Southern Africa and the United Nations Information Centre.

Presenting the petition, MLC delegation leader Gillies Kasongo said media practitioners were saddened by the growing "appetite" by some political parties to harass defenceless journalists.

"We have now decided to draw the line as duty bearers on behalf of the noble journalists who have got nothing to do with the political contests going on among political players," he said.

He said recently, cadres from the United Party for National Development harassed reporters from Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation at police headquarters.

A Muvi Television female reporter Namakau Lubinda was detained at the Zambia Wildlife Authority office in Livingstone recently for wearing an Ivory bangle.

He urged Mr Sakeni to take to Parliament Bills that guaranteed Press freedom, right to cover events and safety of journalists and issue a ministerial statement pledging support and protection of media practitioners.

In response, the minister directed police to take swift action against political activists who harass journalists and assured various media practitioners of maximum protection.

Mr Sakeni, who is Chief Government spokesperson, said police should ensure that perpetrators of violence against journalists were arrested.

"I have acknowledged this petition... as you know there is no democracy where information is being denied to people and journalists play a key role in information dissemination and Zambia is a haven of peace.

"That's why police should act swiftly on anybody regardless of their political affiliation for harassing and beating up journalists. Police should immediately arrest anyone who breaks the law," he said.

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