Tense Zambia shuts down private mediaFrom ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THE closure of some privately-owned broadcasting outlets and arrest of some journalists has been denounced as an attempt to silence media critical of the government of President Edgar Lungu, whose re-election has been challenged in court.
Zambia’s Independent Broadcasting Authority this week suspended the licenses of Muvi TV, the country’s largest privately owned television station, as well as Komboni Radio and Radio Itezhi Tezhi, also privately owned.
Regulators allege the broadcasters are “guilty of professional misconduct and pose a risk to national peace and stability” before and after the disputed August 11 presidential elections.
Four Muvi TV workers were arrested after the police and officials from the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority took control of the station’s office in Lusaka.
They have been charged with “criminal trespassing.”
While they have been released, they still face prosecution.
The closure of the broadcasters follows the June shutting of the biggest independent, The Post, because of a tax dispute, a move CPJ considers politically motivated attempt to silence criticism ahead of the election, which was tainted by violence and allegations of voter intimidation.
The Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) urged Zambian regulators to reinstate the broadcasting licenses of the media outlets and police to drop all charges against journalists.
The opposition United Party for National Development has challenged the outcome of the election in court, alleging the country’s electoral commission had manipulated the results.
The challenge has delayed the inauguration of Lungu who, according to the official results, won 50,4 percent ahead of Hakainde Hichilema’s 47,6 percent.
– CAJ News
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