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Zambia’s government intensifies online media crackdown

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
Zambia , 22 Jul 2013

Zambia’s government intensifies online media crackdown

Zambia’s government has blocked access to another online publication called ‘Zambia Reports’ less than a week after blocking the Zambian Watchdog website from being accessed locally.

The Zambian government has also arrested and detained another journalist working for the Zambian Watchdog, as part of a clampdown on online media critical of the Zambian government.

Police in Zambia have even arrested freelance journalist Wilson Pondamali, who is accused of being a contributor to the ‘banned’ Zambian Watchdog website. Pondamali has been charged with being in possession of a military book and theft.

Meanwhile, the Zambia Report website has been blocked from domestic access in the country, resulting in bloggers and journalists protesting over the Zambian government’s crackdown on online media publications.

The blocking of the Zambia Reports and the Zambian Watchdog follows warnings by the Zambian government that it plans to shut down online newspapers accused of promoting hate speech and ‘casting aspersions’ on ministers and senior government officials.

The Zambian government claims that negative reporting by online publications could also affect the country’s image in the lead-up to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) conference, which is scheduled to take place in Zambia and Zimbabwe next month.

Zambia’s minister of information and broadcasting, Kennedy Sakeni, has however said that there is ‘nothing wrong’ in blocking access to the publications and the arrest of journalists.

“Investigating wing would clamp down any person suspected to have broken the law regardless of whether they were journalists or not,” Sakeni said.

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