By Kobusiinge Monica
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-run television announced Monday it had fired two reporters who covered an opposition leader’s press conference in defiance of ‘editorial policy’.
The journalist and cameramen went to report on the head of the Congo National Liberation Front who laid down what some local media called an “ultimatum” to President Joseph Kabila on August 22.
Their story on the front president Elie Kapend Kanyimbu, a former rebel chief and comrade of Kabila’s father, was not aired by the National Radio and Television of Congo (RTNC) network, but was instead arrested the following day.
“We are sacking them because they did not follow editorial policy,” said deputy chief executive Freddy Mulumba.
“They went and covered the press conference of Eddie Kapend who was threatening the institutions.
“And our editorial policy is very clear: defend the institutions and the Congo.”
The two journalists had been spoken and listened to on the record, Mulumba added.
Press freedom group Journalist in Danger (JED) condemned the sackings, which included a free-lance editor, as “abusive”.
JED said their work contracts were torn up without notice for filming “footage calling for rebellion and eluding the watchfulness of the chain of command” at the channel.
The group voiced fears the sackings would lead to greater censorship of state media ahead of the December 23 elections.
President Kabila, in power since 2001, has said he will not run again. But he has been accused of trying to prevent rivals from standing in the election and named his ex-interior minister Ramazani Shadary as his chosen successor.
Reporters without Borders lists DR Congo at 154th out of 180 on its press freedom index for 2018.