from ARNOLD MULENGA in Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, (CAJ News) – THERE is concern over what critics argue is the shrinking of media space in Zambia under the new government.
The said crackdown is targeting media houses and personnel critical of the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND), led by President Haikande Hichilema.
Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) believes the government of creating an environment which criminalises the practice of critical and good journalism.
The latest case is the arrest of Thomas Allan Zgambo, who has been slapped with a charge of sedition, in a move ZIIMA says seems calculated to continue a campaign of intimidation against media publications critical of the UPND government.
“This is a step towards dictatorial rule in Zambia,” said Wilson Pondamali, ZIIMA consultant.
ZIIMA reports Zgambo, editor of the Zambian Whistleblower, has been denied bail and medical attention.
Other cases mentioned by ZIIMA include that of South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) correspondent, Arthur Davies Sikopo, was recently summoned to police headquarters and had his equipment confiscated.
Conrad Chikweto, Chongo Sampa and Stafrance Zulu, journalists at the Zambia Daily Mail, were fired reportedly for taking pictures of Zambians lining up to buy the staple maize meal which was in short supply at the time.
Hichilema, at the time of his inauguration, assured the media of the provision of a safe working environment.
ZIIMA noted the UPND and its leadership were ushered into office in the August 2021 elections after campaigning on a platform promising enhanced freedom and democracy.
“It is therefore worrying to note that most of these promises have not been kept and, in fact, the opposite is fast becoming the norm,” Pondamali said.
– CAJ News