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Opposition party officials assault journalists, erase photographs from camera

(MISA/IFEX) - On 25 February 2008, two journalists from "The Post" newspaper were harassed by officials from a major opposition party, the United National Independence Party (UNIP), for allegedly covering wrangles that had ensued at the political party's headquarters in Lusaka.

Photojournalist Angela Ntentabunga and reporter Lambwe Kachaili were manhandled on allegations that their newspaper did not cover UNIP when invited but only did so when there were wrangles taking place in the party.

The journalists went to cover violence that ensued when a group of party cadres clashed in an internal campaign dispute involving a vacant parliamentary seat. The parliamentary seat fell vacant after the death of a member of Parliament.

A female official, who was said to be wielding a plank, threatened Kachaili and squeezed his throat when he tried to enquire about the violence. The official later confiscated a camera from Ntentabunga after the photojournalist took a picture of her with it, and demanded that the pictures be deleted. The camera was only released after the pictures were erased.

Two UNIP officials said they regarded "The Post" as their "greatest enemy". The two journalists were eventually rescued by police, who escorted them back to "The Post" newspaper offices in Rhodes Park, Lusaka.

Reacting to the report, MISA Zambia chairperson Henry Kabwe, in a press statement, condemned the act and described it as archaic and belonging to dictatorial regimes.

He said the physical harassment and use of abusive language by UNIP was sad because it was the party that brought independence to Zambia. Kabwe called on the UNIP leadership to apologise to "The Post" and the media in general.

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