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Zambian government vows to close online publications

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

The Zambian government has vowed to close some online media organisations for allegedly publishing insults and not positive criticisms.

Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga said there was need to put a stop to the unpalatable language that some online media houses were using.

Malupenga expressed concern that the language being used by some online media houses is not good for the country’s development.

According to Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS), a government run news agency, the Zambian government is warning online media houses not to abuse the freedom of expression but to use it responsibly.

Last month, the country’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF) also called for the closure of online publications alleging that they are being used by opposition political parties to attack and insult government officials and church leaders.

Opposition political parties in Zambia receive less favourable coverage from the country’s mainstream media that are all controlled by the PF government and have instead turned to independent online media for coverage.

However, the PF alleges that the country’s online publications are being sponsored by the opposition political parties to insult and cast aspersions on the government, members of the clergy and traditional leaders supporting the government.

PF secretary general and spokesperson Winter Kabimba also feels 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 the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), the country’s telecom sector regulator to close the Zambian Watchdog, an online publication, 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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