GOVERNMENT has barred private media both local and international from covering President Michael Sata as he officially opens the Fourth Session of the Eleventh National Assembly.
According to information obtained by the Daily Nation only eight journalists from State owned media houses had been accredited by the Zambia News and Information Service (ZANIS) to be in the Press gallery and the chamber.
The media houses allowed are Daily Mail, Times of Zambia, Post Newspaper, ZNBC and ZANIS.
And sources from Parliament told the Daily Nation that they were instructed to accredit only a few journalists from the list that was submitted by ZANIS.
One of the private media houses MUVI had applied for permission to cover the event but in response the National Assembly said that the ceremony was a state event and that the names for media personnel wishing to cover it had to be submitted to the director of ZANIS.
A Dr G. H. N. Haantobolo who signed on behalf of the National Assembly said it was the duty of Parliament to accredit persons once they were on the ZANIS list.
He further advised that the press cards were produced and signed on behalf of the Clerk of the National Assembly based on the names submitted by ZANIS.
However, a ZANIS official told the Daily Nation that the matter was beyond them as they were only told to accredit certain individuals.
The officials revealed that a number of journalist and media houses had submitted names for accreditation and that they had instruction not to allow more journalists in the press gallery.
And MISA Zambia has noted with sadness the sudden and retrogressive decision by the Government to block out some media houses from covering the opening of Parliament today.
MISA Zambia chairperson Hellen Mwale said the decision to bar journalists from private media houses was not only an insult but also amounts to undressing the so called democracy before a global audience.
Ms Mwale said MISA was appealing to whoever was behind the shameful act to rescind their decision.
“Above all our main appeal is to President Sata himself to issue a directive to counter this archaic, barbaric and shameful act. We want to put it to the attention of the Clerk of the National Assembly and her collaborators that Parliament is not a private institution but a public institution which is composed of elected and not appointed people’s representatives,” she said.