MISA condemns police, urges media to be ethical on Barotseland

Press Statement

15 January 2011

MISA Zambia Condemns Police for Seizing Equipment from Radio Lyambai, but urges media to maintain professionalism as they report on the Barotseland Agreement.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia is disturbed by the action of the police in Mongu on 14 January 2011, who confiscated equipment from Radio Lyambai, which put the station off the air.

We are concerned that police acted in a heavy handed manner by forcing their way into the station and seizing computers and other vital equipment, in addition to vandalizing electrical cables in the studio.

The police action was apparently triggered by a broadcast on the station which they believed was encouraging people to attend the banned rally in Limulunga on the Barotseland Agreement.

We wish to appeal for speedy dialogue between Radio Lyambai and the authorities so that the radio station can resume operations and continue playing the role of peace building and providing a platform for people to express themselves freely on topical issues which are important for the development of Western Province.

MISA Zambia further wishes to call upon the board and management of Radio Lyambai to ensure that the radio station does everything ethically and professionally possible to serve its audience in a manner that balances the need for freedom of expression and its responsibility to promote peace and development in the province.

In another development, MISA Zambia, was disturbed by reports that the government had banned live phone – in programmes on the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 on community radio stations, especially those in Western Province.

However, upon contacting the Acting Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Ms. Dora Siliya, and viewing the video tape in which the Minister made the statement, we are convinced that she did not issue an order banning live phone-in programs discussing the Barotseland Agreement.

We would like to assure our members that there is no such directive. The Minister was merely advising community radio stations in Western Province especially, to be cautious when handling that matter in order not to inflame an already volatile situation.

MISA Zambia, therefore, wishes to encourage the media to continue reporting about the Barotseland Agreement and other issues of public importance. However, there is need for them to exercise maximum responsibility, professionalism and adherence to media ethics to avoid being accused of inciting the population.

signed

Daniel Sikazwe

Chairperson

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