ACTION ALERT UP-DATE - ZAMBIA
FEBRUARY 16, 1996
INTERNET EDITION OF THE POST ALSO BANNED
The Internet edition of The Post newspaper of February 5 - banned by
President Frederick Chiluba in terms of Section 53 of the Penal Code - has
been removed from the paper's World Wide Web (WWW) site.
Mark Bennet of Zamnet Communications, the privately-owned Internet service
provider which hosts The Post's WWW site, says Zamnet was left with little
choice but to make the February 5 edition of The Post inaccessible on the
Bennet says Zamnet kept the banned version of The Post on the WWW for two
days after it was published, but was then warned by a "someone senior in
the police" that the company was liable to be raided and charged with
possession of a prohibited publication. The President's ban of edition 401
of The Post covered "all forms" of the paper, says Bennet.
Visit The Post's WWW site (http://www.zamnet.zm) and you will find the
February 5 edition listed in the paper's archive of back editions, but
click on the edition and the file will not open. However, following
editions of the paper - containing stories about the banning, the police
raid on The Post's offices, and subsequent arrest and charging of
Editor-in-Chief Fred M'membe, Managing Editor Bright Mwape and Special
Projects Editor Matsautso Phiri with contravening the State Security Act -
can be read. The State Security Act charges relate to a report published in
the February 5 edition of The Post revealing the government's plans to hold
a referendum on the adoption of a new constitution.
A recent addition to the Zamnet WWW site is "Zambia Today" - stories from
the state-run news agency ZANA, which are up-dated every couple of hours.
"State House was very keen that the world didn't see The Post newspaper
alone," said Bennet. "We kept telling them that we were going to keep The
Post, but that we were happy to put up a State House page, or a page for
ZANA. We are trying to actively encourage them to be positive."
Bennet stresses Zamnet was an independent company and would not succumb to
self-censorship as a result of political pressure. Zamnet is housed at the
University of Zambia, which has a 52 per cent share holding in the company.
Although funded by the government, the University enjoys academic autonomy,
says Bennet, "so there is no possibility of pressure (being exerted on
Zamnet) through the University".
M'membe, Mwape and Phiri are due to appear in the High Court today to hear
whether or not their bail - granted last week Wednesday (February 7) after
initially being turned down by a magistrate - can be reviewed. If the court
decides their bail can be reviewed, the three stand a chance of returning
to jail to await trail on the charges of contravening Section 4 of the
State Security Act, which prohibits the publication of classified
information. If convicted, the journalists could be jailed for up to 25
However, speaking on Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) news this
morning (February 16), Mwape said he was not deterred by the prospect of a
lengthy term in jail if convicted. "It is about time such a challenge was
made," said Mwape. "The freedom we are talking about will only come if we
are prepared to make sacrifices for it."
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Private Bag 13386
Tel. +264 61 232975, Fax. 248016
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