News / Africa

    Journalists Facing Increasing Threats in Zambia

    Practicing journalism has become one of the more dangerous things to do in Africa’s largest copper producer, Zambia.  The country -- once seen as a model of democracy in southern Africa -- has seen a sharp rise in threats and physical attacks on journalists.

    The Patriotic Front was ushered into office in the September 2011 elections on the platforms of enhanced freedom and democracy.

    Ask any journalist in Zambia and they will tell you that promise has not been kept and in fact, the opposite is occurring.
     
    Harassment and intimidation of people working in the media -- especially those identified as critical of the ruling party -- is on the upswing.
     
    In less than two weeks, three journalists have been arrested and charged by the Zambian police with various offenses ranging from sedition and defamation to unlawful possession of restricted military material.
     
    Some opposition lawmakers, like Charles Kakoma, are expressing serious concern that these arrests are in violation of the law and basic human rights in the country.  "We have seen in the recent past journalists being harassed, being beaten and media organizations being threatened with closure like UNZA Radio.  And now they have turned on to the online publications and they have been trying to close down online publications.  Fortunately they have failed to do so because some of them are not registered in Zambia and therefore beyond their jurisdiction,” he said.
     
    The plight of two journalists associated with the online publication Zambian Watchdog have come to the attention of the international media.  Clayson Hamasaka and Thomas Zyambo had their homes raided earlier this month, were arrested and Zyambo has been charged with sedition and is scheduled to appear in court July 26.
     
    Zambian Watchdog is known for citing unnamed sources in reports about alleged government corruption.
     
    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on July 17th called on the Zambian government to stop its harassment of the Zambian Watchdog and stop blocking domestic access.  The CPJ called it “alarming” to see a democratically-elected government trying to silence and intimidate critics.
     
    Kakoma, a journalist himself, said he feels sad about what is happening and notes he thinks there was more media freedom under President Kenneth Kaunda’s one-party 27-year rule.  
     
     
    “Obviously we used to operate under a one-party state of fear.  But this time around it has worsened.  And I feel very bad that this government is taking us many years backwards.  This government is basically shredding democracy and that is unacceptable, Kakoma said. "As a journalist, I feel that that should be fought.”
     
    Opposition lawmaker Gary Nkombo said efforts to counter this media onslaught through legislation have been stymied in the National Assembly.
     
    “It is also clear that they [ruling party] have deliberately delayed the bringing of the Freedom of Information bill to parliament as one of their ways to shut down progress regarding the articles contained therein.  I think that today is a very sad day for this country and for many people who have been depending on the online publications, because the online publications have not only been very informative but they have created a platform for people to decipher the difference between the state-sponsored media, which at all stages stifles the flow of information and only support their existence to continue their hegemony and to suppress other ideas,” noted Nkombo.
     
    Zambia's President Michael Sata has been known to sue political opponents and media critics, including the Zambian Watchdog, for defamation and libel.  His chief spokesman and head of the Information and Broadcasting Services, Kennedy Sakeni, agreed to be interviewed for this report.  But he later cancelled by text message.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora