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Privately-owned broadcaster target of defamation campaign

(JED/IFEX) - Since 24 May 2008, Radio Television Mwangaza (RTM), a privately-owned station broadcasting in Lubumbashi, capital of Katanga province (southeastern DR Congo), has been the target of a slander campaign organised by Honoré Kazadi Lukonde, alias Ngube Ngube, a reported supporter of Katanga Governor Moise Katumbi Chapwe.

During a 24 May press conference held at the Makutano private club in Lubumbashi, Kazadi Lukonde vilified RTM and accused it of being a "media outlet that propagates hatred, encourages tribalism and divides the Katangese people." The press conference is being repeatedly broadcast by the three main media outlets in the region, including the state-owned Radio-Télévision Nationale Congolaise (RTNC), whose managers officially work with the provincial governor, Radio Télévision Nyota (RTN), owned by the governor, and Radio Télévision Wantanshi, which also supports the governor.

According to RTM's newsroom, this slander campaign is reportedly connected to the braodcaster's independent stance. More precisely, the issue allegedly arose following the broadcast of a report on a local mining company's controversial road construction project, connecting the Congolese city of Kolwezi to the Zambian city of Solwezi. The provincial governor, who has interests in the mining sector, is opposed to the project, whereas a majority of people polled by RTM welcome the initiative. RTM's journalists said that in their report, they gave a voice to various opinions.

JED condemns this slander campaign and calls for its immediate end. The arbitrary accusations against RTM are an inadmissible call to murder, according to JED. The organisation also denounces the misuse of the local broadcaster and recalls that in accordance with article 24 of the constitution and the 22 June law on press freedom in RD Congo, the RTNC is a public media outlet which should not be used to further the interests of any individual or group.

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