The Non-governmental Gender Organizations’ Coordinating Council has noted with concern the drastic decision by the Independent Broadcasting Authority to suspend the operating license of Prime Television in public interest.
NGOCC Executive Director Engwase Mwale said the decision without doubt negates the fundamental rights of press freedom and freedom of expression that are guaranteed and provided for in the Republican Constitution.
Mrs Mwale said the role of a free and independent press cannot be overemphasized in a young democracy like ours. An independent and free press is critical in nurturing the growth of a democratic State as citizens depend on the unhindered flow of information to make informed decisions.
She said there is no doubt that Zambians were and are dependent on Prime Television and other media organizations for information.
Mrs Mwale said the underlying principle is that media diversity and pluralism is an important ingredient in any given democracy.
She has since appealed to the Independent Broadcasting Authority to immediately rescind their decision and reinstate Prime television.
“As a women’s movement, we regard the media as a critical player in the governance of the country which can negatively be affected by any efforts to muzzle the press. We appeal to the Minister of Information, Hon. Dora Siliya, to preside over this matter and reconsider the decision of the IBA. It is in the interest of the Government to protect its reputation against accusations of being authoritative against independent media”, she added.
“In conclusion, we reiterate the words of the late Nelson Mandela, that “A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference”, Mrs Mwale said.