Media bodies condemn harassment of Daily Mail journalists 

By Staff Reporter

The Free Press Initiative (FPI) Zambia is saddened with the attacks of Zambia Daily Mail reporters during the Katuba parliamentary by-election on Tuesday.

Zambia Daily Mail journalists Stephen Mvula and Jack Zimba were on Tuesday beaten by known cadres but believed to be from a PF camp in Katuba.

In a statement issued on Thursday, FPI founder Joan Chirwa has further stated the institution will engage Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo and leaders of political parties to ensure they commit to the protection of journalists on duty.

“The FPI has learnt with deep sadness the attack on Zambia Daily Mail journalists, Steven Mvula and Jack Zimba, by political party cadres during the Katuba parliamentary by-election on Tuesday. The attackers, according to information we have received, even grabbed a camera and other valuables from the journalists. The fact that the two had a camera should have rang bells in the minds of these known cadres that their victims are journalists who were there only to do their jobs,” Chirwa stated.

“We are happy that President Edgar Lungu has condemned the attack but what we ask is quick movement to ensure those behind this barbaric act are arrested and prosecuted. Leaving the cadres to  get away with such acts will compel them to continue with this behaviour which might even get worse as we head to the 2021 general elections.”

She stated that safety of Journalists should be a priority to political parties.

“Safety of journalists should be a priority among all political parties and to this end, the FPI will engage Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo and all political parties to ensure a commitment is made to the protection of journalists wherever they’re deployed to carry out their works,” stated Chirwa.

And MISA Zambia has called for improved security towards journalists as they go about their duties “especially during elections”.

MISA Zambia chairperson Hellen Mwale stated that that continued attacks of journalists created a hostile working environment for the media to carry out their duties.

“We wish to emphasize that media is a tool for national development, as such journalists should be given leverage to carry out their duties without fear or intimidation. Further, media plays a key role in ensuring free and fair elections as such they deserve ample protection and should be protected at all costs from any form of violence and intimidation,” stated Mwale.

Meanwhile, Zambia Institute for Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) president Jajah Coulibaly stated that journalists had continued to face the mockery, beating and unruly behaviour from political party thugs.

“ZIIMA learns with dismay that two Zambia Daily Mail reporters namely Jack Zimba and Steven Mvula were beaten by cadres in Katuba during elections even when they had parked their vehicle right behind a police vehicle. And, obviously this should have guaranteed them police protection. The same political sponsored thugs hiding in the name of party cadres emerged from Savannah Lodge on Great North Road where the PF had set camp, which may give us a clue of where the cadres belong to,” stated Coulibaly.

“We wonder why the cadres went away with a camera, recorders and some money, a situation that we condemn in the strongest terms. This behaviour outrightly entails that these are not genuine cadres, but criminals hiding in politics. This is why we want to appeal and urge journalists across the countries that face such situations to stay away from the negotiating table, situations that happen mostly when complainants know the attackers and seek protection.”

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