In a final statement issued at the meeting held on Wednesday, ERCA's board of directors said it had analyzed the consequences of the events resulting from the march organized by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the largest opposition party, in Luanda, condemning "unequivocally" the acts carried out by some demonstrators against professionals from state-owned channels TPA and TV Zimbo.
The directive council focused especially on the positions adopted by the two channels, urging their managements to take into account their commitments to the whole society, under the terms of the paragraph 4 of the article 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Angola.
This article enshrines the right of political parties to equal treatment by entities exercising public power, to impartial treatment by the public press, and to democratic opposition.
The ERCA board also reiterated the "imperative" need for journalists in the exercise of their duties to benefit from maximum protection by the organizers of demonstrations and other political party activities, in order to prevent them from being harassed by anyone, regardless of the means used.
The organization points out that the new Penal Code criminalizes as an attack on the freedom of the press, any illegitimate action that aims to hinder the exercise of journalistic activity in the public space.
In the document, ERCA's board of directors also stresses that it has taken note of all the reactions that were made public following the incidents of September 11 this year, with emphasis on the President's appeal for dialogue as the best way to overcome any disagreement.
The Head of State appealed this Wednesday, in Ndalatando, Cuanza Norte province, for dialogue between the country's two public television stations and UNITA, after the latter decided to boycott coverage of the largest opposition party, following acts of intimidation against journalists during a demonstration last Saturday.
"The directive council urges citizens, in general, to respect the work of journalists, avoiding getting involved in acts of physical or verbal violence that jeopardize their integrity or condition the exercise of their activity," ERCA appealed.
On Tuesday, the Union of Angolan Journalists (SJA) also called for dialogue to try to overcome the decision by public television channels to suspend coverage of UNITA activities, over complaints of intimidation by supporters of the opposition party.
In a note signed by the general secretary, Teixeira Cândido, the SJA also asked journalists to refrain from participating in political disputes, noting that the political context, a year away from the general elections in 2022, requires "serenity" and noting that the president of UNITA, Adalberto da Costa Júnior, repudiated on the same day the threats and obstruction to the activity of journalists of those channels.
For the union, it is necessary to "maintain social peace and the democratic state and the rule of law," calling on the management of TPA and TV Zimbo to use dialogue as the "most sensible way to safeguard all interests at stake".
In a statement released after the pronouncement of the two channels, UNITA stressed that the decision comes "to confirm and officialize the repeated censorship" and violation of laws and deontology.
A statement from the executive secretariat of the permanent committee of the political committee, in which the party body analyzed "all the surroundings and consequences" of last Saturday's march organized by the party in favor of free elections in Angola and invited the guardianship and the managers of those organs "to reflect on their reiterated pamphleteering and exclusivist practice against UNITA and its leader."
The party recalled that its president, Adalberto da Costa Júnior, condemned at the time "the actions of the youths who prevented the reporting of the public television correspondents" and pointed out that "the legitimate defense of the employees" of the channels "cannot fall into the argument of not ordering them to cover future events organized by UNITA.
The executive secretariat also took "good note" of the concerns of the multisectoral commission for the fight against covid-19, which repudiated the attitude of UNITA during Saturday's march in Luanda, for violating the measures foreseen for the situation of public calamity due to the pandemic, and recommends that these concerns "be extended to all actors, including the MPLA.
MPLA, the ruling party, announced for Saturday a "March of the Millions" to demonstrate its popularity and support for the President, João Lourenço.
The initiative comes in response to UNITA's march, which brought together thousands of Angolans in Luanda, including from other opposition political forces and elements of civil society.