Lusaka Businessman and Board Member of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Sipho Phiri has been dropped abruptly from the institution.
On Saturday 5th April 2020, Phiri made an alarming tweet that has been shared widely when he claimed that Zambia has no new COVID-19 cases because it had run out of test kits and was not testing any cases.
“Don’t be misled by anyone… there are no new cases in Zambia because we haven’t been testing!! Corona is moving.. we just can’t record it.” He tweeted.
His tweet was gleefully shared by Opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema who agreed with him.
Phiri appears to have deeply offended recent strong caution by IBA that recently condemned unethical reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.
IBA also called for objective, fair and responsible reporting on the pandemic.
But his tweet on testing caused alarm as many tweeter users asked him to provide evidence for such an alarming tweet especially that he is considered to be a senior member of society.
Many reminded him that the process surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic was being monitored by many international partners and stakeholders and could not be faked or hidden.
Others called for his arrest if he failed to provide evidence and substantiate his wild and alarming claims.
But on Monday evening he posted a somber message announcing his own dismissal from the IBA Board.
“Well that must have been the shortest appointment in the history of the Independent Broadcasting Authority!”
“Fired after 2 Board meetings..maybe I was a bit TOO INDEPENDENT 🤣” he tweeted. “Must say though there are some excellent Board members & great staff at IBA. I wish them all the best.”
The IBA is responsible for regulating the broadcasting industry in Zambia, by ensuring the promotion of a pluralistic, ethical and a diverse broadcasting industry.
The functions of the IBA include among others, to grant, renew, suspend and cancel radio and television broadcast licences.
Phiri is a shareholder in the Memorial Park Cemetery and has been pursuing many business ventures in the country.