Zambia’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Chishimba Kambwili, on October 22, 2015, threatened to revoke the operating licence of Radio Phoenix, the country’s oldest private broadcasting station, if it (allegedly) continues to be influenced by the opposition.
The minister has warned the owners of Radio Phoenix that an investigation has been instituted in that regard, and if it is found that it is true that the political party is interfering in the running of the station, they [the government] would be left with no option but to revoke the license.
Minister Kambwili, who is also Chief Government Spokesperson, further warned reporters at Radio Phoenix to desist from anti-government propaganda or risk their station being closed.
He went on to complain that the radio station had an anti-government agenda because its shareholders were opposition UPND sympathizers.
The minister also warned the owners of Radio Phoenix that the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) is mandated to look into the issues of bias in radio reporting, and they had been instructed to find out why one of the station’s presenters, Christine Ngwisha, was fired.
Last week, Radio Phoenix presenter Christine Ngwisha was fired in unclear circumstances after she hosted the Information Minister on a popular talk show, Let the People Talk. The dismissal fuelled speculations in several media circles.
Previously, under late President Michael Sata’s rule, Radio Phoenix had its nationwide license withdrawn a few days after it was granted, through then Information Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Mwamba. The president stated that granting the station a nationwide license was a threat to national security, and that the station would allow a named opposition political party leader to continue ‘attacking’ government. The Permanent Secretary was transferred to a different portfolio and later relieved of his duties.
Radio Phoenix is Zambia’s oldest private broadcasting station established in 1996, after the apparent liberalization of the sector by the Chiluba government.
MISA Zambia is monitoring the situation and is engaging the affected parties and has since issued an alert.