JUNE 29, 2005
Posted: July 22, 2005
Fred M’membe, The Post
Police questioned M’membe, editor-in-chief of Zambia’s leading daily The Post, and threatened to charge him with defaming the president in editorial commentaries published by the newspaper. According to local sources, The Post had published a recent series of editorials accusing President Levy Mwanawasa of being a “liar” for allegedly failing to tackle official corruption, and calling on the president to resign.
The local chapter of the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) reported that police served a “warned and cautioned” statement, notifying him that he was under investigation for defaming the president. If convicted, M’membe could face up to three years in jail, according to MISA.
Earlier in June, supporters of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) attacked and harassed vendors working for The Post, in reprisal for articles that accused the president of sheltering a former official in the Ministry of Health, Kashiwa Bulaya, from criminal prosecution for alleged corruption.
The police action against M’membe occurred a week after police threatened to charge radio host and commentator Anthony Mukwita with sedition after he read an anonymous fax on-air that criticized the government for failing to crack down on corruption. The threats sparked fears of a clampdown on criticism of the government.