Below is a verbatim press statement sent to the Watchdog by Dickson Jere President Banda’s press Aide:
I wish to clarify a misleading and erroneous story published by The Post Newspaper of January 19, 2010 titled “STATE HOUSE EYES MUVI TV TO COVER PRESIDENT BANDA AT AU SUMMIT” in which the newspaper alleges that, His Excellency, Mr. President Rupiah Banda, President of the Republic of Zambia is only interested in MUVI TV to cover his trips, leaving out the other private media outs and the state television.
The following is the correct position:
1. Following several requests from both public and private media to be included in Presidential delegations to key international events, President Banda sanctioned that all Media Houses should be included on his local and international trips. However, due to financial constraints, reporters from the private media will be included in the Presidential delegations on a rotational basis. For Example, President Banda’s delegation to Maputo, Mozambique for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika held on January 15, 2010, included a crew from the privately owned QFM.
2. President Banda’s delegation to the Ordinary Summit of the African Union Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will include the private media. This is in addition to the Presidential media crew from the Zambia News and Information Service (ZANIS), which syndicates the stories to all media outlets in Zambia.
3. The reporters from the state-owned Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and community radio stations across the country will also be included on a rotational basis on Presidential delegations to other key international events.
4. It is, therefore, erroneous and misleading to insinuate that President Banda is only interested in MUVI TV at the expense of other media outlets when, in fact, the President has traveled with reporters from other private media organizations such as QFM.
5. I wish to reiterate that State House will continue to include reporters from public, private and community media on the Presidential delegations to key international events. Reporters working for the public and private media are all Zambians and should, therefore, be given the opportunity to cover their Head of State on key international engagements such as the African Union Summit.
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS
Below is the story by the Post:
STATE House has co-opted Muvi TV, a Lusaka based privately-owned television station, to accompany and cover President Rupiah Banda at the African Union (AU) heads of state summit in Ethiopia this month end.
And Muvi TV chief executive officer, Steve Nyirenda, on Sunday said his station will jump on the opportunity if State House writes to him indicating that the government will pay all the costs for the trip.
Insiders at State House revealed that President Banda directed that he wants Muvi TV to be covering him wherever he goes and the government would be footing the bills.
“So this month end Muvi TV journalists will accompany the President to the AU summit in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Everything has been processed. You can even call Muvi TV, they will confirm this trip,” the insider said. “The government will be paying for everything.”
The insider said President Banda did not explain why he was interested in Muvi TV accompanying him.
“Strangely, ZNBC which is a government owned institution, its journalists nowadays do not accompany the President abroad, ZNBC gets news reports from ZANIS, unless they travel on their own and pay their own bills and that is usually on local trips. So we are wondering why the President is interested in Muvi TV, leaving out other private media outlets,” the insider said.
When contacted, Nyirenda said he was waiting for formal communication from State House on the issue.
“If that is the issue I will be very happy to do that but I am waiting. If it’s true what you told me, I will be very happy to do that because for us whoever comes to pick us if there is something good that we can do for the nation we do it, especially if the costs have been paid,” Nyirenda said. “We have gone with everybody; we have gone with the NGOs. If there is a good cause for us we do it but if it’s not good we don’t do it. As simple as that.”
He expressed hope that State House would send a letter to Muvi Television this week, concerning the trip.
“I am just telling you to say if I get a letter from them that they are going to do that, we will be available because if we happen to go to the AU summit then there can only be something very good for our station as well as for our viewers,” said Nyirenda. “We will get a letter perhaps tomorrow yesterday or during the course of the week. It will be nice for us, we will jump on it.”
The assembly of the African Union’s 14th Ordinary Session will take place between January 31 to February 2, in Addis Ababa.
Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika is expected to take over the rotating chairmanship of the AU from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.