News Diggers Defiantly Responds to Information Minister Dora Siliya


News Diggers Newspaper has written to Chief Government spokesperson Dora Siliya acknowledging receipt of her letter dated 12 June 2020 in which she as Minister of Information and Broadcasting expressed concern over what she termed as the use of derogatory word “Stupid” in the newspaper editorial comments.

Managing Director Joseph Mwenda expressed gratitude to the Minister that she reached out to the Newspaper to express her concern and to offer her advice on behalf of the government.

Mr Mwenda said dialogue is extremely important between the ministry that she heads and media houses.

“Honourable minister, you particularly picked the word “stupid” as being unacceptable to the PF government. We find it strange that the ministry missed the press conference by the Lusaka Province Minister Mr Bowman Lusambo who referred to the youths who commented on bad governance as “stupid”, “disgruntled”, “naked” and “nonsensical”, among other words”, said Mr Mwenda.

“For ease of reference, we quote just one paragraph from Mr Lusambo’s briefing: “I want to urge Kings Malembe Malembe, I want to urge
the Cameraman (Chellah Tukuta), I want to urge B-flow and his team that can you desist from bringing the name of thw country, the name of government into disrepute”. This is the stupidity of the highest level, and we are not going to allow this here in Lusaka Province.

“I want to urge Kings Malembe Malembe that I am giving him 24 hours to apologize to the President for releasing those stinking nonsense…As Minister for Lusaka Province, I can assure these boys that they are too naked to misbehave!… It is now a fashion to some of these disgruntled youths to advise the President using social media, not in Lusaka Province, that is lawlessness!” We wonder why we have not heard of any reprimand of the Lusaka Province Minister for calling the youths who were expressing themselves on governance issuesas “stupid”.

Mr Mwenda said he cannot imagine that a Minister of Ms Siliyas caliber and political acumen would fail to appreciate the fact that News Diggers was merely quoting the words “stupid” as used by the Honourable Minister of Lusaka.

He has questioned why Ms Siliya would suggesr that News Diggers has opened itself to attacks from the youths for the perceived use of
derogatory language when she did not see the need for the same youths to retaliate against Mr Lusambo when he used the same words complained about.

Mr Mwenda has questioned why as minister in charge of information dissemination, she didn’t see anything wrong with Mr Lusambo’s threats on people‘s liberties and freedom of expression.

He said the newspaper does not think Ms Siliya expect them to apologise for quoting the words that were used used by her fellow minister.

Mr Mwenda said he however find that the motive of Ms Siliyas letter was to incite youths to attack News Diggers if the newspaper does not apologise.

He said this is a deliberate invitation on the youths to kneel on their necks until the newspaper suffocate like George Floyd.

Mr Mwenda said this is obviously motivated by the fact that their organization has remained resilient in keeping the PF government accountable.

“It appears to us that after the demise of Prime TV, the government has placed News Diggers as next on the agenda for closure, and it hopes the youths can do the needful.

News Diggers has not called anyone “stupid”, we only quoted what the Minister of Lusaka said and therefore, if anyone has to apologise, it should be Mr Lusambo, not us.

But even assuming that we did originate the use of the word complained about, there is no way that you, as a minister who should care about press freedom, would incite cadres tovattack a news organization”, he said.

Mr Mwenda said it is strange that as a Minister who was condemning the PF attacks on Iso FM radio in Muchinga Province last month, she can now suggest that it would be justifiable for youths to attack News Diggers.

He said any attacks on the Newspaper will be treated as government-sponsored at the instigation of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

“Honourable Minister,you say media houses in Zambia are not advocacy institutions. We say, minus one! News Digger is, in fact, an advocacy institution and it is part of our core values to advocate for good governance, press freedom and freedom of expression among other constitutionally guaranteed liberties”, added Mr Mwenda.

He said his Newspaper newspaper is at war against corruption, abuse of office and any tendencies that threaten Zambias cherished democratic

He said while there might be a burning desire by the Minister or other persons unknown, toclose down News Diggers for the critical role it has continued to play in exposing bad governance, politicians must be reminded that government positions are not permanent.

“Sooner or later, their time in office will end and they will need the same media houses that they now so desperately wish to close down, as platforms for airing their grievances. In view of what we have explained above, our newspaper is not in a position to issue an apology”, he said.

“But we appreciate your effort to write to us, and expressing your interpretation of our editorial opinion, skewed as it may be. We here now throw back the challenge to you to call on the youths to desist from attacking News Diggers or any other media house, if you truly and patriotically, as a journalist, stand for media freedom”, he said.

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