The disruption and subsequent attack on Muchinga Radio by Patriotic Front (PF) cadres for merely featuring President Hakainde Hichilema is not only a reversal of the gains so far made in the fight against COVID-19, but also an affront to attaining a fully functional democracy, United Party for National Development (UPND) deputy secretary general in charge of politics, Patrick Mucheleka has charged.
Speaking on the “People’s Debate” radio programme on Pan African Radio this morning, Mr Mucheleka stated that it was surprising that barely a few months after closing Prime TV, the PF could resort to acts that were making the media space very narrow.
Mr Mucheleka said that the COVID-19 situation that Zambia and the rest of the World has calls for Governments to allow journalists and media practitioners to freely play their role of informing the public without fear and intimidation.
“In a functioning democracy, you cannot do without the media. That is why they are referred to as the fourth estate which provides an oversight for functioning good governance. Under well-functioning good governance system, you must be able to ensure that the media plays its role without any interference. You don’t have to create a hostile environment for media to operate in,” he said.
He called on PF Government to, for once, respect journalists and media houses for the critical role they play in society, adding that if the PF regarded journalists as frontline workers in the COVID fight, it would see an end to the PF’s barbaric attacks on media house.
“Apart from the health workers who are on the frontline, the PF should for once start regarding journalists as frontline workers because they are the only ones providing a platform for information dissemination to the people throughout the country,” he said.
Mr Mucheleka has since demanded for the immediate reopening of Prime TV, saying keeping the private media house shut amounted to robbying the poor masses of the critical information regarding the novel coronavirus.
He said that the country was going through hard times, hence the need for all political players to desist from using politics to settle political scores.
“The TV station (Prime) should be opened unconditionally…this is a very important period we are in, especially with the challenge of the COVID-19. This is not the time to attack radio stations and attack journalists because you think that Mucheleka or Hakainde Hichilema is speaking to the people. As we are here in this calamity, we must put all our political differences aside because coronavirus does not know race or tribe,” he said.
Click here to watch video —P. Mucheleka
UPND MEDIA TEAM