By Lucy Phiri
THOMAS Zyambo, Zambia’s renowned investigative journalist was in the early hours of Tuesday trailed and arrested by the Zambia Police in Silverest area after being stalked for days.
Mr Zyambo who is detained at Chilenje Police Station without being charged is suspected to be the man behind the Zambian Whistleblower, an online publication which has been critical of the Hakainde Hichilema administration.
Mr Zyambo has been on the police-wanted list for a long time but on Tuesday, plain-clothed police officers raided a lodge where he was booked, forced themselves in his room, immediately grabbed his phones and laptop before bundling on the waiting vehicle to Chilenje Police Station.
By yesterday, Mr Zyambo was still detained and police have not issued any statement on the arrest of the fearless journalist, who in the 2021 general elections played a significant role to the victory of the UPND and President Hichilema.
And now the Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) has expressed concern with the increasing number of acts by State arrests, which are shrinking the space for media practitioners and creating an environment, which criminalises the practice of critical and good journalism.
ZIIMA consultant, Wilson Pondamali said the country had been witnessing a sharp rise in threats and physical attacks on journalists in the last two years UPND had been in government, despite President Hichilema, at the time of his inauguration, assuring the media of provision of a safe working environment.
“For the record, SABC correspondent Arthur Davies Sikopo was recently summoned to Police headquarters and had his equipment confiscated; journalists at the Zambia Daily Mail, namely Stafrance Zulu, Conrad Chikweto and Chongo Sampa, were fired for taking pictures of Zambians lining up to buy mealie- meal which was in short supply at the time.”
“The latest case is the arrest of Thomas Allan Zyambo, who has been slapped with a charge of sedition, in a move that seems calculated to continue a campaign of intimidation against media publications critical of the UPND government. This is a step towards dictatorial rule in Zambia,” Mr Pondamali said.
“The UPND and its leadership were ushered into office in the August 2021 elections after campaigning on a platform promising enhanced freedom and democracy. It is therefore worrying to note that most of these promises have not been kept and, in fact, the opposite is fast becoming the norm. There is increasing harassment and intimidation of people working in the media, especially those identified as critical of the ruling party,” he said.
He said in the case of Mr Zyambo, ZIIMA had noted sadly that he had been denied both bond and medical attention he clearly and urgently required.
This article is supported with the WAN IFRA Women In News (WIN) Social Impact Reporting Initiative (SIRI) gender equality, diversity and inclusion (GEDI) Information in this article does not reflect the views of WAN IFRA Women In News.