By Nation Reporter
UNITED Party for National Development has accused ZNBC of refusing to approve its advertisements because they are perceived to be a direct attack on President Edgar Lungu.
UPND secretary general Stephen Katuka said he had compiled all the advertisements which have been rejected by the national broadcaster on unreasonable and baseless grounds.
In his application for judicial review in the Lusaka High Court, Mr Katuka said:
“That I believe and I am verily advised by counsel that the decision by the Director-General of the respondent to repeatedly reject our political campaign advertisements is tainted with irregularity; is unreasonable, is arbitrary disproportionate, illegal and as such undemocratic as the respondent is, in effect, rejecting all and any advertisements that make reference to or critique the Patriotic Front (PF) party.
“That I believe that this is a proper case for this Honourable Court to grant me the reliefs I seek as endorsed on the notice of application for leave to apply for judicial review filed herewith,” he says.
He explains that the action by ZBNC came despite the opposition party paying K350, 500.00 for airtime to broadcast a number of adverts on both radio and television respectively for the 2016 general election campaigns.
Mr Katuka says the opposition party entered into several contracts with the national broadcaster for airing of campaign advertisements from 16th May, 2016 to 16th June, 2016, but that ZNBC unreasonably refused to approve the adverts.
He charged that the UPND entered into a radio and television advertising contract no. 37303 with the national broadcaster for prime time transmission of 60 seconds political campaign advertisements commencing on 16th May 2016 until 25th June 2016 as well as another 60 seconds political campaign advertisement on the 22:00hours news at K27 144.00 and K19 000.80 respectively.
“That on or about 20th May 2016 the respondent unreasonably refused to approve the following UPND advertisement,” he said.
“That on or about 23rd May, 2016 the UPND received notification of suspension of its advertisement dubbed “Bello” on the unreasonable basis that the word “corrupt” was used therein. Now produced and shown to me and collectively marked “SK 6” are true copies of letter dated 23rd May, 2016 containing the said suspension as well as copies of English, Nyanja and Bemba transcripts of the Bello song,” he said.
He explains that K350, 000 was spent by the UPND on the seven advertisements to the national broadcaster.
He says however, the UPND was informed that some adverts had been suspended including the women empowerment and the one dubbed “Bello” on the basis that it contained the word “corrupt”.
He told the court that the women empowerment advert was unreasonably rejected on the opinion that it contained unfair accusations of allegations of empty promises.