Monday, June 03, 2013

Radio Macha staff refuse to host HH
By Hope Mkunte in Macha, Choma
Mon 27 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema on Saturday night pleaded to be on Radio Macha in Choma so that he could denounce the government over the removal of subsidies on fuel and maize for millers. But the radio station refused to host him because he had not booked for air time.

Hichilema arrived on Saturday night at Radio Macha unannounced and tried to get on air but was stopped by the Radio Macha staff because he had not made any prior arrangement. He arrived at Radio Macha in a convoy of four vehicles after a series of meetings with local leaders.

This was after attending chief Mapanza's funeral on Saturday.
Hichilema tried to persuade the radio staff to allow him to be on air and offered to pay KR4,000 if they let him or UPND members of parliament to speak on radio, but the staff stood their ground and said he should have made prior arrangements so that they put him on their programme schedule.

He got frustrated that he could not be allowed on radio in his own homeland.

"See what the PF government can do! This is the work of a dictator who does not allow freedom of speech," said Hichilema to hundreds of his supporters and shop owners who cheered him on.

"Why do you treat me like this when other radio stations cry for me to speak on radio when they hear that I am in the area? If Wynter Kabimba came here and said he wanted to go on air, you would allow him straight away because he is in the ruling party."

Hichilema accused Radio Macha staff of belonging to the PF.
But Mastone Moonze, who is in charge of news at Radio Macha, said the station was neutral.

" As much as we respect Mr Hichilema, the timing of his arrival at the radio station was wrong. We would have loved to have him on air under different circumstances but not in the manner he came without notifying us in advance of his agenda," said Moonze.

Hichilema, who was in the company of Mbabala member of parliament Ephraim Belemu, Choma Central member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa, former Southern Province UPND vice-chairman John Chidyaka and other UPND officials, went round the nearby shops greeting shop owners and villagers, some of whom took pictures with him.

And Chidyaka said he was disappointed that Radio Macha could not allow Hichilema to address 'his people', stressing that the UPND leader was newsworthy.

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