Friday, October 25, 2013

Bwalya accuses govt of abusing media
By Mwala Kalaluka
Mon 30 Sep. 2013, 14:01 CAT

ALLIANCE for Better Zambia president Frank Bwalya yesterday accused the government of abusing state machinery to deny his political party access to the country's public and private media institutions.

And Bwalya says he has decided to do away with the position of personal assistant in his office after senior party members advised him that it was too sensitive a portfolio for an opposition party leader.

Bwalya said in an interview that the PF was trying to make it difficult for him to have democratic space and participate in the governance of the country.

"Some radio stations and other quasi-government institutions have been instructed to stop or to block us from using their facilities," he said.

"This thing has become so pathetic that we are being denied even to place adverts; paid for adverts and simple announcements for meetings."

Bwalya said the latest case was that of Sun FM in Ndola, where his scheduled talk-show was cancelled on Wednesday and officials at the private radio station claimed that the Zambia Information Communication and Technological Authority (ZICTA) had ordered them to halt the talk-show as the arrangement was not conducive.

"I had an altercation with the employees from the radio because I could not understand how ZICTA came into the picture. I was inconvenienced," Bwalya said.

"Yesterday (Wednesday), we paid Radio Maranatha in Kabwe for an announcement of a public meeting which was supposed to be held on Saturday in Kabwe. This Thursday morning they have called our officials in Kabwe to tell them that some authority in Lusaka has told them not to go ahead running the announcement; nothing controversial in the announcement."

Bwalya alleged that senior PF officials and President Michael Sata were the ones behind these machinations against him.

"They are using state machinery to intimidate some private radio stations, including quasi-government institutions, to make our work difficult," he said. "This is a party that claimed that they were going to finish me within three months when we formed ABZ in May this year. They have also claimed that I am not a factor. Therefore, one wonders why they are putting spanners in our works. We urge Mr Sata and his Cabinet to uphold the Constitution and allow every citizen democratic space."

But Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Emmanuel Mwamba said Bwalya's allegations were contrary to what he (Mwamba) had been preaching over the last five days he had been in office that the democratic space should be opened up through the airwaves.

Mwamba advised Bwalya to complain to him officially but also reminded him that the institutions he was complaining about were private with their own independent guidelines.

And asked about the stepping down of his personal assistant Emmanuel Chilekwa, Bwalya said there was no way he was going to accept his decision when he just communicated to him through a text message.
Bwalya said he went to Chilekwa's house when he appointed him his personal assistant.

"I have been advised by senior party officials not to engage another personal assistant because it is a highly sensitive position and for a party in the opposition, we could have a lot of problems coming through such positions in the party," said Bwalya.

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