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Political party supporters punch Zambian journalist, seize camera

Suspected supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) have attacked TV journalist Njenje Chivu, and also seized his camera. The incident occurred on Saturday, 15 June 2013.

Information available says Chivu, who reports for the privately-owned Muvi TV, was filming clashes between PF supporters and those from the leading opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) when he came under fire.

The political party clashes happened on the side of a funeral of one of the victims who died during a recent shooting incident in rural Zambia where the Zambian National Service (ZNS), a government security wing, was involved in a land dispute.

“When I noticed that one [PF supporter] had seen me filming his fellow cadres, I quickly pulled out the memory card from the camera and gave it to my driver who hid it. Almost immediately, the cadres approached and pulled me aside, asking me not to publish the pictures,” said Chivu.

The journalist says that he was then threatened with unspecified action if he went on to broadcast the footage. Not satisfied with this, the suspected PF supporters went on to punch the journalist at least six times. His camera was then forcibly taken from him and has not yet been returned.

MISA-ZAMBIA POSITION

The Zambia Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zambia) urges the PF-led government to seriously address the issue of violence, which continues to be perpetrated by political party supporters against journalists. These acts of violence are seriously threatening Zambia's democracy.

“We are saddened that another media freedom violation has been recorded in such a short space of time. On 12 June 2013, suspected PF cadres harassed Father Bwalya and staff of Flava FM Radio on the Copperbelt. A similar incident was recorded in mid-May this year in which another Muvi TV crew was beaten by suspected PF supporters who were alleged trying to take over land illegally from its owner,” said Nalumino Nalumino, MISA-Zambia Chairperson.

He added that the incident in which non-security person suspected to be from the PF confiscated the Muvi TV camera is tantamount to theft. “We demand that the camera be returned and police take quick action to identify the persons who committed this offence,” said Nalumino.

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