Times of Zambia wants Zambian Watchdog destroyed and writers jailed

There can be no doubt that the government owned and heavily controlled Times of Zambia was talking about the Zambian Watchdog in the editorial reproduced below:

Purveyors of falsehoods must be caged 

ONE academician, researcher and author once said: “There is a lot of trash that passes for journalism nowadays.”
He was alluding to what is commonly referred to, in journalism parlance, as “yellow journalism”—the inclination towards sensational news reports which border on fiction because no one can vouch for the veracity of the information.

The academician’s observation, which was made many years ago before the advent of online publications, seemed like a harsh indictment
against British tabloids and their brand of ‘journalism’.
Many people who are privy to scurrilous reports based on rumours being circulated by online publications in Zambia will be excused for
their harsh judgements on the journalism profession as a whole.
It is undeniable that online publications have become conduits of crude propaganda and all sorts of falsehoods which have now assumed
grotesque proportions.

The lies being peddled willy-nilly by some people with political motives could have serious ramifications on the
country, including endangering the nation’s security.
President Michael Sata left for India on a private visit last Thursday shortly after his maiden State visit to Botswana.
But as soon as the President’s plane took off, purveyors of falsehoods, armed with the power of technology which enables online
publications to disseminate their information far-and-wide, began to spread malicious information that the Head of State was unwell and had
been evacuated.
The President had an official engagement at State House upon his arrival from Botswana when he swore in newly appointed Deputy Minister
of Information and Broadcasting, Mr Mwansa Kapeya and several envoys appointed as heads of missions abroad.
This ceremony was conducted under the glare of television cameras and a horde of photographers who saw the President in person. State House
official photographer, Eddie Mwanaleza, also took pictures of the Head of State when he was leaving State House by helicopter on Friday
morning, and there was nothing unusual which was captured by the photographers or television cameras to suggest that he was unwell.
What has been circulated by the online publication is not only preposterous but also patently false. Such falsehoods are generated by
morally bankrupt individuals who lack even a modicum of decency.
This malicious campaign of falsehoods has persisted in spite of irrefutable evidence to the contrary—pictures have been e-mailed from
India which have captured the President’s official engagements, while on his private visit to India which clearly show that the rumours
have no basis.

The persistence of such malicious rumours is unhealthy not only in our country but anywhere else in the world. The nation’s security can be
imperiled by such rumours and investor-confidence can also suffer irreparable harm

Online journalism has plumbed its lowest depths as far as its credibility is concerned, and this is a source of grave concern not
only to the general public but the entire journalism profession.
Even in a liberal political dispensation such as the one which obtains in Zambia, a way has to be found to deal with the nuisance of
falsehoods being generated by depraved individuals whose level of impunity has now assumed alarming proportions.
Zambia is a liberal democracy which promotes a culture of openness, and also subscribes to the liberal philosophy of a free Press
unfettered by the controls and encumbrances often associated with dictatorship and authoritarianism.
But willful publication of falsehoods, particularly the form adopted by one online publication, is unacceptable.
Such conduct is very base indeed and has to be repudiated by all well-meaningprofessionals.
The purveyors of falsehoods, once nabbed, should be caged to eliminate this menace.

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