20 February 2017

Zambia: Misa Zambia Upset Over M'membe Persecution

Photo: Zambia Reports
The Post Editor Fred M'membe arrested by police (file photo).

MISA Zambia has condemned the police raid on former Post Newspapers Limited in liquidation Fred M'membe's residence and taking away some printing equipment.

Police spent the latter part of last week camped at M'membe's residence that they searched and had arrested his wife whom they detained for 48 hours.

On Saturday police went with a folk lifter to canter away the printing press for The Mast Newspaper that is housed in the car park of the M'membe residence.

Police went away with some parts of the equipment alleging that it belongs to the closed Post Newspaper.

Law enforcement agents sealed the Post Newspapers printing offices that are along Lumumba road where the printer for the closed institution is housed.

Police have mounted a scattered approach to fishing out anything they imagine is owned by The Post Newspapers.

Below is the statement issued by MISA Zambia vice chairperson Elizabeth Chanda:

For Immediate Release

Sunday, February 19, 2017.

MISA condemns state police seizure of Mast Newspaper equipment, raid on M'membe's residence and calls on Zambians to stand for the freedom of the press

MISA Zambia condemns, in the strongest terms, the action by the state and police actions to suppress the Mast Newspaper in addition to the earlier harassment and assault of Mutinta Mazoka-M'membe during an attempted search in the absence of her husband five days ago.

MISA is concerned that the state fight is no longer about the closure of the Post Newspaper instigated by the government and the Zambia Revenue Authority, but now a war to close down any media house deemed to be critical.

There is no connection between The Post Newspaper in Liquidation and The Mast Newspaper owned by Mutinta Mazoka and we seriously urge the State and the Post Newspaper Liquidator to stop the unwarranted moves to destroy Dr M'membe and any critical private media.

As MISA, we are appalled by this high level of hypocrisy being exhibited by the state, that while the Justice Minister has indicated to the Zambians that the Access To Information (ATI) Bill will presented to Parliament, government is diametrically opposed to media freedom and development, and freedom of expression going by its sensitivity to criticism or dissenting views.

In a democracy such as Zambia, the critical mass of the people should not be subjected to monolithic, biased news singing praises to the government, unleashing propaganda against channels of independent voices especially that Zambia claims to be a model democracy in Africa.

Zambia has actually lost credibility as a country with a flourishing media industry due to state and police appetite to clamp down and muzzle the media. MISA is further disturbed that the gagging of the media appears to be a war targeting Dr. M'membe-a private citizen and his family, while President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has paid a blind eye, with the police seemingly appetised to inflict pain on private citizens.

The events of the past few days are evidence of pure state brutality against which all Zambians must now stand. It is worth noting that elections are over, and we should as a country be focusing on how to reunite the country and not the vindictive attacks we are witnessing on a daily basis.

It is further disturbing that while the Ministry of Information is calling for professionalism in the media industry, government agencies are bent on closing down independent media voices, and this is anathema.

We therefore demand that government forthwith stop the illegal and vindictive efforts to uproot the printing press of The Mast Newspaper which they intend to execute on Monday after failing yesterday. As MISA we wish to warn government and police that this level of brutality and gagging of the media will soon backfire and the day of reckoning will soon come. We urge all Zambians to stand for and defend the freedom of the media. This war is beyond Dr. M'membe, Mutinta Mazoka and the Mast; it is an attack on our fundamental freedom of expression as citizens. We should not, as citizens therefore, detach ourselves from this state sponsored brutality against the media as it has the potential to infringe on us all.

Elizabeth Mweene Chanda

Vice Chairperson,

MISA Zambia Chapter

Zambia

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