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Zambian Church Saddened with Muzzling of the Media

Thursday 8 September 2016, by SIGNIS

Lusaka, September, 8th, 2016 (Amecea). Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) has joined other Church mother bodies in expressing alarm and sadness at the government’s muzzling, harassing and persecution of private media institutions in Zambia.

This is according to a joint statement released on Wednesday 31st August, 2016 in which the Church mother bodies have also condemned the threats and intimidation directed at the Constitutional Court.

In a joint statement signed by Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) President Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu, Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) President Reverend Alfred Kalembo and Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) Board Chairperson Bishop Joseph Imakando, the churches say that the Zambian government’s closure of The Post Newspaper, Muvi Television, and some radio stations marks a shameful period in Zambia’s history.

“We are deeply saddened and alarmed by the Government’s muzzling, harassing and persecution of the private media,” reads part of the statement. “The suspending of licenses for the Post Newspaper, Muvi TV and closing down of some radio stations to mention but a few incidents mark a shameful period in our history reminiscent of the sad past when the world we knew was only through the Times of Zambia, Zambia Daily Mail and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).”

The Churches contend that the reasons advanced by the government and its agencies for closing the media institutions are lame and called for the immediate reinstatement of the licenses.

“Lame excuses have been offered by the Government for its shameful action but the public cannot be deceived and has not swallowed the lies. Paradoxically it was the Post Newspaper that so eloquently supported the cause of democracy and press freedom and Patriotic Front while in opposition greatly benefitted from the support and opportunities of the private media. Why lift the ladder now that the party is at the top?

“The President must take action to reverse this ill-advised and retrogressive affront on the freedom of expression. At the same time, we again appeal to all media out-lets, both public and private, to adhere to professional ethics and avoid being channels of hate speech.” The Church leaders said.

The government of Zambia recently suspended the broadcast licences for Muvi TV, Komboni and Itezhi Tezhiradio stations for allegedly running programmes that incited violence in the post-election.

Itezhi Tezhi radio broadcast licence has since been restored however Muvi TV and Komboni radio took the matter to court and still pending.

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