By Globe Reporter
Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) executive director MacDonald Chipenzi has strongly condemned the continued political violence and harassment of media practitioners covering political parties activities in the country.
Chipenzi’s statement follows continued reports of harassment of journalists by political party cadres. Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) journalists were last week harassed by Patriotic Front Cadres during the party’s Lusaka province conference and rally in Mandevu compound.
Chipenzi said continued electoral violence being perpetuated by political parties ahead of tripartite elections did not inspire confidence in the electoral process.
“The situation is compounded by the extension of violence against innocent journalists. This is a blatant signal of lack of respect for and violation of freedom of the press by these politicians,” Chipenzi said. “We appeal to the law enforcement agencies to pursue perpetuators of violence ahead of the elections. We further appeal to all political party leaders to instil discipline in their party file and ranks.”
Chipenzi said for the media to be able to play effectively in ensuring free and fair elections, party cadres should undertake to respect the rights of journalists to report election related events free from intimidation and fear of their lives by ensuring their physical safety.
He said despite the media in Zambia being highly polarised, it did not warrant political parties or individuals to harass innocent journalists.
“FODEP wish to call on political parties to respect and ensure safety of journalists ahead of the elections,” he said.
Chipenzi advised political parties and politicians to stop inciting crowds or groups to attack media representatives, Permit journalists access to news sources unhindered, not to verbally or physically interfere with journalists’ reporting on election stories and not to compromise journalists reporting election with gifts, favour, special treatment and/or promises.
He asked Electoral Commission of Zambia and its officials in districts and provinces to provide the media with complete, accurate and timely information about the election process to avoid speculations and suspicions.
However, Chipenzi urged the media to refrain from biased coverage and coverage, which reinforces the existing, prejudices against women and persons with disabilities especially women.