MPs quizz Sakeni over firing of critical journalists from govt media

Members of Parliament (MPs) mainly from the opposition today took to task Minister of Information and Broadcasting Kennedy Sakeni over the  decision by Amos Malupenga and State House Aide George Chellah to retire Journalists from the now two PF controlled Newspapers, the Times of Zambia and Daily Mail.

Chembe (MMD) MP, Mwansa Mbulakulima, led the onslaught when he  asked Sakeni  whether there were any Journalists that were retired from the two Newspapers following the September 20 2011 elections.

In some ‘public relations’ response, Information and Broadcasting Deputy Minister told the House that none had been dismissed from the two dailies however explaining that the two companies were downsizing.

Mr Kapeya told the House that four employees had been separated from the Daily Mail and that these included the former Managing Director, Evans Milimo, his deputy Davis Mataka. Others from the Mail were Wallen Simwaka and Ndubi Mvula. At the Times of Zambia, Kapeya explained that the company was trying to downsize and that nine employees had been retired and dismissed assertions that they were victims of some politically motivated witch-hunt.

He named those that had been retired as John Phiri, the former MD, his deputy, Mirriam Zimba and Head of Production Hicks Sikazwe and Journalists Patson Phiri, Bob Sianjalika, Obert Simwanza, Whitney Mulobela, Richard Mulonga.

It was arising from the response of the Minister that MPs took turns to question the government as to whether the retirement of the Journalists was politically motivated.

Lunte MMD MP Felix Mutati in a follow – up question asked the minister whether, the Journalists who were retired on purely political reasons had been paid their dues. Liuwa MP Situmbeko Musokotwane also wondered why the government had decided to pick on the young Journalists and whether they had re-advertised the positions after retiring the named Journalists.

Mazabuka MP, Garry Nkombo also questioned the minister’s response to the question over the Journalists.

In April this year Amos Malupenga and George Chellah made the decision to retire seasoned Journalists who they thought were threats to the PF government.

The PF has come under fire from international organisations for the continued violation of media freedoms.

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