Once again we are coming up against attempts by the PF to intimidate and pressure media outlets not to play our advertisements and radio jingles. Most recently, Frank Bwalya has instructed various radio stations that the PF is ‘determined to stop all UPND adverts where they are mentioning PF’ and has stated that they ‘will soon be engaging the ECZ so they can cooperate on this matter’.
Bwalya seems to have misunderstood that Zambia is a democracy and that as such all political parties have the right to access media and air their views. In fact, a free and fair election depends on such access during the campaign period.
Bwalya also appears to have forgotten that part of the role of opposition parties in a democracy is to monitor and evaluate the performance of the sitting government, holding them to account where they fail to deliver on their promises to the people.
This comes after Minister Kambwili put pressure on UNZA radio to cancel a scheduled appearance on the station by UPND presidential candidate Hakainde Hichilema last week. It also comes as we face continued resistance from ZNBC to some of our adverts, including the campaign song ‘Bello’ for its reference to corruption. What sort of society are we living in if we’re not even allowed to discuss corruption? How can we even hope to tackle corruption if such comments are subject to censorship by those in power?
In sum we would advise Frank Bwalya that it is more appropriate for us as UPND to be engaging the ECZ on such matters, as it is such attempts to cancel scheduled appearances and pressurise stations to stop playing our adverts that is violating the terms of the Electoral Code of Conduct.