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Opposition party supporters assault journalists in Zambia

(MISA/IFEX) - Party cadres from one of Zambia's major opposition parties, the United Party for National Development (UPND), assaulted a news team from the country's main television broadcasting channel, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

The events transpired at the police headquarters in Zambia's capital city, Lusaka, on 29 October 2012, when news reporter Brian Mwale and his camera operator, Gerald Siingwa, came across UPND cadres as the two journalists were on their way to conduct an interview with Dr. Solomon Jere, the newly-appointed Deputy Inspector-General of Police.

The cadres allegedly became agitated and violent when they recognised Mwale as being an employee of the state-owned TV station, and proceeded to throw stones and bricks at the two journalists. The cadres were apparently angered by perceived unfair coverage by the station of their party.

In an interview with the Zambia Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zambia), Mwale said that they were lucky that the police promptly came to their rescue because the cadres were threatening to kill them and they would have probably been "attacked and strangled." He said that the cadres, who came out of the Cabinet Office buildings, were so unruly that the police presence did not deter them from throwing stones.

Mwale also stated that the cadres began by blocking their way as they tried to drive to the police headquarters. They managed to make their way through the cadres and into the police headquarters, but by the time they both came out the cadres had swarmed the area. They began pushing Mwale around while threatening to kill him.

MISA-Zambia expresses its deep disappointment over the continued harassment and attacks on media practitioners by political party supporters.

MISA-Zambia is concerned and saddened over yet another incident of abuse and condemns the harassment of the two journalists from ZNBC, which took place after several other violations that happened within a short time period.

Due to the rise in violations against the media by political party supporters, MISA-Zambia will embark on literacy programmes regarding the work and operations of the media.

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