Ms. Siliya, the Informations and Broadcasting Services Minister, said when she featured on a special programme on Radio Phoenix on Monday that her job is to ensure that she defends the law from both sides.
This was in response to a question on the reported barring of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema on some radio stations in Muchinga Province, which the Minister has categorically condemned and said the ruling party cadres are embarrassing the government by their behaviour.
She, however, said the regulator, has not received any report about the content of the programme on which Mr. Hichilema was featured.
“Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) has not received a report about to say no Mr. Hichilema was demeaning, that is why we wanted him out of the radio. But even if he was demeaning, there is a process in which media houses can be sanctioned by the IBA. The IBA has done that by withdrawing the licenses, by closing radio stations, even TV stations if they break the law,” Ms. Siliya said.
“We are supposed to be a country of laws for us to be able to live together across religious divide, political divide, across tribal lines. We all have agreed that we live in this nation state called Zambia. So first, we are Zambians, so we have to obey the laws of the country as captured in our own Constitution. The public’s right to know is operationalised in modern society through newsrooms, through the practice of journalism. Sometimes, we have to accept that in big political institutions, even in the PF, there are people who are a bit overzealous. Nobody has the right to issue instructions to radios and say radio cannot do this or do that. We as government have already requested radios and television stations and all other media to work with us in the fight against COVID-19.”
She said that the only regulatory body for radios was IBA and added that the government will have to do quite a lot to educate PF members in the provinces that the radio stations operate under an Act of Parliament and the IBA issues licenses.
“Unless there is a specific grievance against what somebody is saying on the radio station, I think it is important that we observe the laws of the country. The only regulatory body for radios is the IBA, it is not the PF Provincial Chairman and I think as a party, we will have to do quite a lot to educate our colleagues in the provinces that the radio operates under an Act of Parliament and the IBA issues this license. We are the very government that is elected by the people to look after their public interests and in this case, government is a representative of all the citizens of this country and one of the things they didn’t elect the PF government for is to storm radio stations,” Ms Siliya said.
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