NEWLY appointed Minister of Information and Broadcasting services Chishimba Kambwili has vowed to shut down media houses and some online publications allegedly propagating hate messages against Government leaders and other selected senior citizens.
Mr Kambwili has specifically singled out the Zambian Watchdog, an online publication which he said he was going to hunt down until it was closed and its owners prosecuted for allegedly insulting and slandering innocent citizens.
Talking to journalists soon after he was sworn in, Mr Kambwili said media houses were expected to religiously follow their ethics and code of conduct, alleging that there were some newspapers that were thriving on gossip and disseminating hate messages against people they did not like.
He said while Government appreciated criticism from media houses, there was need for media owners to be objective in their stories, adding that often times some newspapers were championing hatred, malice, slander and tribalism.
Mr Kambwili said as Minister of Information and Broadcasting, he was going to be fair with all media houses but that he was not going to tolerate newspapers championing an agenda that was going to put the peace and security of the country at risk.
He said some countries were engulfed in civil wars because of the recklessness and failure to adhere to ethics by journalists.
Mr Kambwili said he was aware that some newspapers and online publications were promoting tribalism and were setting one region against the other, a trend he said was dangerous for the peace and unity of the country.
He said he was expecting nothing less than responsibility from all media houses and that those which would be found wanting would have themselves to blame because he was going to invoke his powers and revoke their licenses.
“I want the media to operate independently but I will not allow newspapers that have the agenda of championing hate speech and messages. There are some media houses, particularly the Watchdog that has been publishing lies and promoting tribalism. They have been disrespecting President Edgar Lungu and other Government leaders. We accept criticism but it must be devoid of insults, slander and hate messages. Other ministers have failed to close the Watchdog but I can assure you that I will hunt them down. Even if it means involving the CIA or the FBI, I will do it,” Mr Kambwili said.
Mr Kambwili chastised Lubansenshi Independent member of Parliament Patrick Mucheleka for ‘‘maliciously’’ claiming that “President Lungu was in Mfuwe only to play pool which he alleged was associated with drunkards.”
Mr Kambwili said it was journalistically unacceptable for a newspaper and its allies to craft stories with the sole purpose of embarrassing a Head of State simply because they did not like him.
And Mr Kambwili promised that he would ensure that the Times of Zambia’s financial problems were resolved and for the employees to be paid their four months’ salary arrears.