MISA denounces Kapata’s threats to shutdown Prime TV

Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) Chairperson Hellen Mwale has cautioned politicians to accept critical views that are constructive and provide guidance.

Mwale’s comments come following comments from PF Minister of Lands Jean Kapata earlier this week in which she warned that Prime TV may be shut down if it continues to promote hate speech. Reacting to a negative opinion given in a news item regarding President Lungu, Kapata stated:  “To Prime TV, we are not warning you but I am telling you that if you continue with the type of reports, disparaging government day in day out, disparaging President Lungu day in day out, these women that you are seeing here shall come and close your studio. Let’s be civil in the way we report because the way we report especially Prime TV, you are going to set Zambia on fire. And we want you to tone down and report on things that Zambians would want to hear. Don’t everyday you are just reporting negative things. We are warning the proprietor, myself and the women that you are seeing here, we shall come to your office,” Kapata warned.

“I wish to bring to your attention what was televised on Prime TV on 2nd April 2018, I think on the 19:00 hours news. A woman from Mwembeshi where the UPND leadership were, and wearing an SDA (Seventh Day Adventist) Dorcas mother uniform, openly insulted His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. This didn’t give a good picture of the Zambian women and the fact that Zambia is a christian nation, to see somebody from a church, a well known church which is SDA in a Dorcas uniform, insulting our president.”

However, MISA Chair Mwale says that it is not media that propagates hate speech, but politicians that seek to drive their own agendas through the press.

Speaking on the matter she explained: “First of all we need to understand the context in which these things were said. We know for sure that Ms [Jean] Kapata is one of those politicians that believe in media development and professionalism of the media. So for her to issue threats to Prime TV I think it’s something new and we would want to know what led to that. Her concern was that Prime TV are featuring or airing stories that somehow seem disparaging to the Head of State,” Mwale said.

“I think also as MISA, we have taken time to just study what she said. However we are still investigating, we are talking to Prime TV on the same because really for Ms Kapata to say that Prime TV will be closed, who closes? Is it a politician who closes a TV station? Or IBA or who? First of all those are the things that we need to understand. But on what grounds?”

“One thing that we would want to encourage our politicians is also to accept that we have critical views, critical minds out there. Not everybody will be singing praises but some people would want to criticize in a more constructive and positive manner. We do not allow criticism that is going to destroy or dent the image of somebody else but we allow criticism that builds and that gives guidance.”.

“So for Prime TV, I think as MISA we are still talking to them because we don’t know whether the allegations are true or not but we are still talking to them and you will be informed once we conclude our investigations. So our appeal to politicians is for them to also understand that there are different views out there. So sometimes they should take heart. Our role as the media is to inform and educate. We are not political players in any way, we do not encourage. But it is them the politicians that come to use the media to propagate their political agendas. So I think politicians should also refrain from using the media to propagate their political agendas. They should instead try to build a more professional and solid media in this country,” Mwale advised.

Open Zambia