IBA should explain Licence suspensions


23 August 2016

Dear Sir,

We are an NGO working out of the Munali constituency in Lusaka advocating for change in the way public resources are managed nationally.

Our main project, ‘Ask Zambia’ encourages and empowers the general public through media to ask targeted and informed questions to duty bearers on the manner in which public money is spent. The Ask Project’s overall aim is to institute routine demand and supply of public resource accountability in Zambia. This work is totally reliant on access to the media, in particular radio and television stations.

An independent and strong media landscape is necessarily our most convenient and effective way of training community voices in demanding accountability from their duty bearers.

We are therefore very concerned by the IBA’s suspension of Muvi TV, Komboni & Itezhi Tezhi Radio stations’ broadcasting licenses. In view of the foregoing, we believe that it will greatly help the general public and other concerned parties to appreciate your action if you addressed among others the following concerns:

  1. What process did IBA undertake to decide that the 3 media houses should be suspended? In particular, did the IBA follow the procedure outlined in the IBA act number 26 of 2010 Article 29(7) and other clauses?
  2. We would like to know why armed officers were brought out against Muvi TV and Konmboni radio and if IBA does not see this as excessive.
  3. Are there any other media houses being investigated for unprofessional conduct/endangering the peace?
  4. What process is IBA taking to ensure that these suspended media houses are back on air in the shortest possible time?

Further, we wish to state that ACA is of the view that suspending the three broadcasting stations in the current electoral period denies citizens access to information.

The nation is at a very critical point when any actions such as this can be easily understood to be politically motivated.

It is therefore incumbent upon your board to address these and other concerns from stake holders. The nation and the international community need to be assured that this action was not arbitrary and does not herald the end of media freedom in Zambia.

Finally, it may also be of great help if your board could state its position on the conduct of the state media during the same period. Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) has cited by many election observers as being grossly biased towards a particular political party. It is therefore important that the IBA states whether it has received any official complaints against ZNBC or not. What remedial action has been taken if any complaints have been made?

We look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Media and Advocacy Officer –

for ACA