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MISA Zambia expresses concern over unsafe working environment for media

(MISA/IFEX) - 26 October 2009 - The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia chapter expresses its concern over the continuing unsafe working environment for the media, especially during press conferences on controversial political issues.

MISA-Zambia learned with regret of a 25 October 2009 incident where recorders from various media houses were confiscated by organised hooligans during the Newsmaker's Forum organised by the Press Freedom Committee of The Post Newspapers Limited. The forum was addressed by George Mpombo and took place at the Lusaka Play House. As a result of the hooligans' actions, the media outlets whose recorders were seized had to run dry stories or merely depend on their notes, which affected their efficiency. The seizure of the recorders by the unlawful group of people masquerading as cadres of a particular party a day after Independence Day is very disturbing.

MISA-Zambia notes with regret that this incident is the second in a row involving controversial political issues. The first transpired recently when Major Robbie Chizyuka was addressing a press conference at the ZAMCOM Lodge in Lusaka. Journalists had to run for their lives at that event.

MISA-Zambia urges the government and police to address the problem immediately before lives are lost or serious injuries take place. Zambia is a democratic state in which citizens have the right to enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, which include freedom of expression and the right to access information.

MISA-Zambia is saddened that 45 years after independence, serious and subtle forms of oppression and control on freedom of expression and the media are showing their ugly heads at regular intervals. This oppression has taken the form of physical attacks on the media, seizures of recorders, violent disruptions of events attended by the media, dismissals and withdrawals from assignments.

MISA-Zambia is fearful that if this trend continues, Zambia's democracy will digress and the true meaning of independence will be lost.

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