CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
MEDIA bodies have condemned the beating of journalists by United Party for National Development (UPND) cadres at the partyâ€™s secretariat in Lusaka on Tuesday.
The cadres vented their anger on the hapless journalists whom they had invited to cover a press briefing in Lusaka.
They assaulted two journalists at their party secretariat in Rhodes Park after police foiled the initial press briefing that had been scheduled to be addressed by their leaders at Chainama Hotel.
The cadres savagely beat up Radio Phoenix journalist Silumesi Malumo and his counterpart from Millennium Radio, Priscilla Banda after mistaking them for Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) staff.
In an interview on Tuesday, Media Liaison Committee chairperson Enock Ngoma described the attack on the journalists by the UPND cadres as â€œvery disturbing newsâ€.
Mr Ngoma said it was regrettable that the UPND had attacked innocent journalists who were merely performing their duty of collecting news.
He urged the UPND never to attack journalists because they had the right to operate in a free and safe environment without any intimidation.
â€œZambia is a democracy and we do not need that [harassment of journalists],â€ Mr Ngoma said.
He asked the UPND leadership to unreservedly and openly apologise for the barbaric behaviour of its cadres.
In a separate interview, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia chairperson Hellen Mwale advised the UPND leadership to educate its cadres on the need to respect journalists and the role of the media in a democracy.
Ms Mwale said journalists from both the private and public media like ZNBC have the right to cover events for both the ruling and opposition political parties.
â€œZNBC should also be fair in the way it covers political parties [to avoid being barred from covering certain political parties],â€ she said.
And Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) general secretary Angela Nduba says journalists are professionals who should never be attacked by cadres as they perform their duties.
And Zambia Union of Broadcasters and Information Disseminators (ZUBID) secretary general Martin Maseka condemned the attack but urged journalists to be professional and politically neutral in their work.
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has issued an apology to the two journalists who were attacked by UPND cadres yesterday during the partyâ€™s press briefing.
In an interview with journalists in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Hichilema said his party does not condone media suppression.
â€œI have ordered an investigation into what happened at our press briefing. I want to assure the media that we remain open and friendly to be covered by the media and to be criticised by the media,â€ he said.
CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka