FORMER Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) controller, news and current affairs Cecilia Banda has told the court that former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Sam Phiri allegedly interfered in the operations of the Corporation by instructing it on what to write on economic and political issues.
Another witness also told Lusaka Principal Magistrate Obster Musukwa that K172, 000 was paid for 23 episodes of the Chanda Chimba III Stand Up Zambia programme out of the 37 beamed by ZNBC.
This is in a matter in which Phiri and former Information minister Ronnie Shikapwasha are charged with six counts relating to diversion of public funds from Government.
Ms Banda told the court during cross-examination by defence lawyers yesterday that Phiri interfered with operations of the Corporation by giving orders on the news diaries that he wanted them to work on.
She said ZNBC was bound to follow Phiri's instructions because the diaries were accompanied with instructions from Phiri who was the chief executive officer of the ministry.
She said it was not a normal practice for a permanent secretary to give news diaries and issue instructions on how he wanted the stories covered but admitted that each Government which came into power could change certain practices.
Asked by one of the defence lawyers Charles Lisita why she felt it was a problem for her to receive news diary instructions from Phiri, Ms Banda said "it became a problem because it was infringing on our professionalism," adding that Phiri's behaviour was an anomaly.
When asked whether what she was saying was her opinion, Ms Banda retorted "I was at ZNBC in my professional capacity and not in my individual capacity as Cecilia Banda."
She admitted that the news diaries were tilted towards politicians in power at the time.
And ZNBC finance director Victor Nyasulu told the court that out of the 37 Stand up for Zambia episodes that were beamed, only 23 were paid for at K172,000.
Mr Nyasulu, 44, of L/18989/M Lilayi said 14 of the episodes amounting to K78, 000 which were repeats were not paid for because the company Phijabo which had paid for the others refused to pay.
He narrated to the court how the Government Joint Investigation Team (GJIT) officers approached him on July 17, 2012 in relation to the investigation of the Stand up for Zambia programme.
He said he produced to the officers documents relating to the programme which included among others, invoices, list of programmes and memorandum of understanding (Memo).
Mr Musukwa adjourned the matter to September 13, to enable the defence study the documents which Mr Nyasulu intends to submit to the court as evidence.