ZIIMA laments brutal suffocation of media freedom and ‘killing’ of independent media institutions by PF govt

Jajah

The Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) has noted with sadness the continued brutal suffocation of media freedom in Zambia and the ‘killing’ of independent media institutions by the PF led government.
In its World Press Freedom Day commemoration message, ZIIMA president Jajah Coulibaly stressed that Journalists and media houses in Zambia have not attached any significance to this year’s World Press Freedom Day knowing that their friends at Prime TV have been turned into destitutes following the closure of the station by government through the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA).

Below is the full statement:

ZAMBIA INSTITUTE OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA ALLIANCE (ZIIMA)

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE 2020 WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY COMMEMORATION
for Immediate release

Sunday, 3rd May, 2020.

While we applaud the media in the country, the Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) will commemorate this year’s World Press Freedom Day with a heavy heart due to the brutal suffocation of
media freedom and the subsequent ‘murder’ of independent media
institutions in our country.

Barely three weeks ago, government closed Prime Television using the
Independent Broadcasting Authority. ZIIMA is therefore aware that
journalists and media houses across the country have not attached any
significance to this year’s World Press Freedom Day, knowing that
their friends at Prime Television have been turned into destitutes. It
is a solemn moment for the media fraternity, we can’t pretend that all
is well for us, when in fact not.

This year’s theme: “Journalism without Fear or Favour”, does not
reflect the feelings of the press in this country because the
“without” in the theme does not apply to the way the profession
is being managed.

The freedom of the press, which is a key component in practicing
without fear or favour, has been overlooked and overshadowed because
divergent views are no longer entertained by this government. Our
profession is being spat on and has been reduced to championing
political propaganda at the expense of the ordinary Zambian who is our
master.

On several occasions, the President Dr. Edgar. C. Lungu has claimed
that he is a friend of the media. But we have problems believing his
claims. So far under his administration, he has closed two media
institutions, namely

The Post newspaper and Prime TV. So, what
friendliness is he claiming to have with the media? Can you claim to
be friends with someone whose body parts you are chopping off and
eventually killing? This is pure hypocrisy from the Head of State. His
relationship with critical media is worse than Kaunda’s one party
state. Moreover, his party cadres have abused journalists verbally and
physically under his watch and with his full support.

It is a well known fact that Prime Television was not given a right to
be heard before they were shut down. A fatherly word from the Head of
State to have Prime TV heard would have proven to the media that he is
as friendly as he claims. We therefore appeal to our President to
intervene in this matter and help solve this for the benefit of
workers, families and the entire media fraternity in Zambia.

ZIIMA continues to engage and sympathise with our friends who lost
their jobs because of the brutal closure of their stations and media
organisations in the last one year.

Currently, the media are still
working under harsh conditions, but they continue to Educate, Inform
and entertain the public.

We would like to recognise the tremendous efforts from the media
personnel, of upholding high levels of ethics and professionalism
despite the Corona virus pandemic that is ravaging the country and the
world.

We mourn with the more than 50 journalists who have died since 1st
March 2020 in 23 countries due to lack of protective gear during the
COVID-19 fight.

We also recognise the one and only justice that has prevailed in the
case of Grace Lungu of Breeze FM where the PF cadre who attacked her
while on duty was sent to prison. And we hope that this continues, as
it shows that the media can speak out and the justice system will hear
them without being intimidated and threatened to back out.

Let us take this opportunity to reflect on our paths as the media
fraternity in order to make credible decisions that will help our
industry grow.

Jajah Coulibaly

PRESIDENT

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