Minister orders Watchdog shut down

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

Zambian Tourism and Arts Minister Slyvia Masebo has publicly directed the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) to close an online media organisation, the Zambia Watchdog.

Masebo said the Watchdog has the possibility of affecting the country's hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly next year because of the negative publicity.

Masebo directed ZICTA to “revoke the law that allows the Zambia Watchdog to operate as an online publication.”

She charged that people were being defamed on the online publication, adding that the UNWTO General Assembly could be threatened by that. Zambia and Zimbabwe will jointly host the UNWTO in August next year.

The ruling Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general and spokesperson, Winter Kabimba, also called for the closure of the Watchdog early this month, claiming opposition political parties are sponsoring some elements in the social media to attack the government.

Kabimba warned the PF government will work hard to close some online publications because their reporting must not go unchecked.

The country’s president, Michael Sata, was the first to direct ZICTA to close the Zambian Watchdog for its attack on the government.

But ZICTA later informed Sata that they had failed to act on his instructions because the Watchdog website is hosted outside the Zambian jurisdiction.

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