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"The Post" journalists harrassed

(MISA/IFEX) - "The Post" newspaper alleged that the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party had assigned four thugs to attack its reporters whenever President Rupiah Banda is travelling and likely to meet the media in the country. The MMD accuses "The Post" of reporting negatively on President Banda.

Quoting anonymous MMD insiders, the newspaper alleged that the thugs are present at every public function attended by the Zambian president.
It was reported that one of the vigilantes tried to harass Edwin Mbulo, a Livingstone-based correspondent, as he was taking pictures of local government minister Benny Tetamashimba.

"You guys have to be very careful with these cadres, they are dangerous. I am sure you saw them in Monze and they are here. If you are not careful, they will harm you. I am sure if you are observant, you have seen them with the President since January or February this year", the source told "The Post" newspaper on 10 July.

"The Post" story stated that the party supporters were also told to record where reporters from the newspaper were staying while covering the President during his out-of-office assignments. The story alleged that the four suspects demanded payment from MMD leaders, senior government officials and the President's advisors.

MISA Zambia chairperson Henry Kabwe urged the MMD government to put in place measures to protect journalists as the 2011 tripartite elections are fast approaching.

He said the trend of journalists being either physically attacked or harassed could worsen as the election year approached. Kabwe said the attacks on media practitioners was not only practiced by MMD cadres but other opposition political parties as well.

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