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Thursday, July 2, 2020

Freedom of Expression for Bloggers and Rogues?

Columns Freedom of Expression for Bloggers and Rogues?

By Isaac Mwanza

Introduction

Is it by accident that, all of a sudden, many Zambian Facebookers have discovered they can exercise their freedom of expression; That all they need is a Smart Phone, bundles and their Facebook account to advance this cause? Or have we reached a stage where the partial shutdown of social sectors of our country such as bars, colleges, and universities has taken a toll on everyone for we can no longer do the gigs and concerts?

Is the mudslinging we see from some of these social media bloggers the result of how annoyed we are with the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic but we are too scared to tell China straight to her face because we are not as brave as Donald Trump who has been blunt in terming it the “Chinavirus”?

On Freedom of Expression

The 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, once said about Freedom of Expression: “we have to uphold a free press and freedom of speech…because in the end, lies and misinformation are no match for the truth.” Before Obama, Winston Churchill also said, “everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes its being extolled but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage” but it is Raphael K. Nunes who tried to define the limits of freedom of expression when he said:

“The limits of freedom of expression is tautological: it ends at a point where it begins to affect the freedom of expression of others.”

In the exercise of freedom of expression being promoted by social media, Zambian bloggers ought to reflect on the caution the Republican President, His Excellency, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu made to journalists on November 8, 2019 during his rare media interaction, when he said:

“Criticism is healthy in a democracy …The media can build or destroy a nation, therefore, let me urge you not to be swayed by the political shenanigans of the outside world as you do your professional work. I, therefore, urge you not to be crusaders of conflict between political players but to provide a forum for public discourse and compromise.”

These words still apply to those who have discovered the new power of freedom of expression that social media offers them. The question then is whether many of these users of live streaming facilities on social media are, indeed, providing a forum for public discourse and compromise or they are just crusaders of conflict between political players.

Some of our colleagues conducting live streaming on Facebook, all in the name of exercising their right to freedom of expression, are unfortunately doing so in disregard of constitutional freedoms and rights of others or the need to exercise restraint reasonably required by the Constitution of Zambia for purposes of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons or the private lives of persons or preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence.

At the rate we moving, it’s easier to predict that soon, our country will be seized with civil litigation in which many people will be dragged to court for various libel and defamation cases. The only consolation for those who may be dragged to court is that a known civil society organisation has donor funding for use in providing legal services to libellous characters or defamers who issue defamatory remarks that support causes for which those funds were made available by the donor.

Free Expression and anti-Chinese sentiment

Let us first be clear: that there is no excuse for any foreign national – whether investor or just a mere businessman or woman or a mere tourist or visitor – to mistreat Zambians either for the colour of their skin or simply because our people need those jobs to earn a living. Equally, there is no excuse for any of us to become xenophobic against foreign nationals, especially the Chinese all because some of them are engaged in unlawful labour practices that humiliate the dignity of our people.

Article 15 of our Constitution protects all persons, both citizens and non-citizens from inhuman treatment. The Article reads:

“No person shall be subjected to torture, or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other like treatment,”

In a nutshell, Zambians and foreign nationals need each other and must co-exist but, most importantly, Government has a solemn duty to protect all persons – Zambian citizens and foreign nationals – from inhuman or degrading treatment.

In carrying out this obligation to Zambians, Government agencies responsible for labour and immigration must work together with the Chinese to improve the environment in which our labour force is working.

But further, in exercise of our freedom of expression, social media bloggers must remember to remain mature and solution-oriented.

There are some live streaming broadcasters on Facebook who have literally forgotten the demands of our African culture and Biblical teachings of treating persons with the courtesy every human deserve: treat an elderly woman as a mother, an elderly man as a father, a young female as sister or young male as a brother. That demands maturity from all of us.

But we must also be solution-oriented, doers of the word and not just people who speak the loudest because we have a platform on Facebook or other social media platforms to do so.

Facebook Streaming without solutions?

During the same interaction with the media in November last year, President Lungu made these remarks which are proving true today:

“The coming of social media has meant individual citizens, themselves, passing content that they have no direct role in producing, and without verification. With social media we have seen that the truth is less important and the more exaggerated or inaccurate the communication is, the more it seems to attract readership.”

What should concern many of our youth on social media today is whether the many vocal bloggers who use live streaming on Facebook, are capable of providing solutions beyond the mere rhetoric and criticism. For instance, how many Facebook activists have created even one (1) gainful employment for the next person?

There is one Zambian colleague who is based in the UK; he doesn’t like speaking publicly (not a Facebook streamer) and yet he has invested his money in a radio station and other employment generating projects in his home district, Manyinga. That kind of entrepreneurial spirit is what this country needs because it creates employment for others and uplifts the wellbeing of communities. Silence speaks the loudest when you have results to show for it.

But the author is not blaming those who speak the loudest and yet have done nothing to create even a single job for someone. This has to do with our education system as a country. Our education system – from nursery to universities – teaches us to become employees, instead of employers. We go to school with the hope that someone will employ us and will give us better conditions.

So when someone is crying that the youth want employment and better conditions, it comes from this mentality that society owes our young people jobs, not opportunities to work for themselves and creating jobs for others.

This is what makes the difference between our country and other countries such as China and Germany, where their education has a large component of vocational or skills training, not focused on producing job seekers but entrepreneurs, that is, creators and managers of their own businesses. And those that come out with innovations in China and run their own businesses, get the support of their government through appropriate policy tools and practical measures or finances, to enable them to thrive.

Here in our country, our own Government has set aside K10 billion as bailout or stimulus package for small scale businesses to help them survive. To those who are speaking the loudest on Facebook streaming, I pose the question; what have you done to encourage our people to access these funds?

We also have US$10.3 million in aquaculture funding from the Ministry of Fisheries managed by CEEC and waiting for people to apply for it so that they can go into fish farming. What are our people who are streaming live on Facebook doing to help our youths harness this opportunity?

There is so much talk about gold mining and that the youths demand that Zambians are given the opportunity to mine the gold. This is a good call but you can cut my finger: even when this opportunity is opened up and conditions set for gold mining, it’s only those Zambians that will have capacity who will be beneficiaries, namely, those who will have the ability to borrow money and invest into gold mining.

But if our youths are failing to tap into the already available opportunities of borrowing from the K10 billion stimulus package or $10.3 million aquaculture funding, what will motivate them to enter into gold mining? Zambia also enjoys vast land for farming, how many of our youths feel like venturing into farming?

Youths seem to be waiting for someone to create employment for them and to give them better conditions of service. I long to see a time when those who have now discovered the power of social media to stream live, would utilise that opportunity to challenge our youths to a change of mindset.

Youths must not expect that any one politician – now or tomorrow – will literally create jobs for them and give them better conditions of service; you can also change Government as many times as you want but your fate lies in your own hands. Those telling you that solutions lie in politics or the youth voting in or out anyone are not providing any solution at all.

Youths and adults alike must rise to the occasion and seize the available opportunity to better their lives. But this starts with the streamers themselves.

Responding to social media bloggers

The manner in which Lusaka Province Minister, Bowman Lusambo, responded to some vocal social media bloggers has indeed raised controversy and been condemned by many Zambians. And they are justified in doing so because, for example, B Flow and Kingsley never insulted or disrespected anyone but they aired their views. What then would be the best reaction to social media bloggers?

Let me remind the PF, of the Republican President’s directives on this matter. The President once said this to journalists:

“The question still stands; do our people believe everything they read on social media? If the answer is yes; then we need to find a way of educating them about how to detect lies in the information they come across; if no; then we need to use the same platform to reply to the purveyors of fake news and call their bluff.”

So instead of calling people like B Flow and others who respectfully air their views as if they broke some law or violated some rule, the President says, use the same platform to reply to the purveyors of fake news and call them out or call their bluff. There is no need to issue threats against citizens, such as B-Flow, Kings Malembe and others who are just peaking their mind

Those working with Government need to take the advice by the President seriously: use the same platform to reply to the purveyors of fake news and call their bluff. And if what they say is untrue, challenge them by replying with the facts, not threats.

The author is a governance activist and hold of Bachelor of Laws, with an inclination towards discourse on governance and legal matters

[Read 1,215 times, 1 reads today]

49 COMMENTS

  1. nice article and educative. if i qout you right, Zambia has vast land for agricultural work, butbhow many youths and Facebook bloggers have ventured into agricultural. may 1%of the youth population.

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  2. Why do you want to define how people express themselves ? The law should be adequate to cover all citizens to excercise these freedoms and to protect those that may be injured in the process. This non$en$e of a few trying to define how people should express themselves outside of the law and their rights is stupid and breeds oppression. Bringing in the religious and cultural norms as a way of gagging others is prehistoric $tupidity. I am not even sure how vocational skills training comes into this article. Ba Mwanza and Ntewewe just eat with PF we have lived with leeches of your kind regime after regime

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    • You want to defend one’s freedom of speech yet u think isaack has not right to express himself way he has done. It’s called hypocrisy!

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  3. Free speech is so important because it not only allows you to critique the government, but it also protects you from the government.

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  4. There must be a line between freedom of speech and insulting. Those rogues like Tukuta are spoiling the cakes for others like B Flow who respectively air their views. We cannot continue to abuse social media, insult people and falsely accuse others in the name of freedom of speech. When they run to court to defend their freedom and the Court agrees with them, ati to the courts are compromised. There must be a limit line drawn to each freedom. Challenge you have people like Bowman and others with no strategy on responding

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  5. Ati…….”Bachelor of Laws, with an inclination towards discourse on governance and legal matters” hehehehe!!! Which Bachelor’s of law doesn’t have an inclination towards “legal matters” ????

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  6. Edgar Lungu is no standard bearer for freedom of speech. He sends thugs to beat up peaceful protesters. And he makes sure these thugs are protected.

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  7. This is one of the best article and timely advice to social media users. Freedom of speech, like any other freedoms, has it own limitations. But like Voltaire said, I do not agree with you but I will defend to the last of the blood the right to say it. That doesn’t meant open cheque for freedom of speech. It has limitations. Keep educating these cadres

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  8. There is also free speech under attack here. Those who believe in freedom of speech like this Shameless Id*ot, I thought, should also respect the freedom of this Issac to speak. It’s called freedom of speech!

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  9. Let’s see how many of senseless cadres will now respect the freedom of expression to write what he has written here hehehehehe. This one you be hammered. Why are people waiting for govt to create employment and conditions of service? Our minds have been colonised as Zambians. We ain’t seeing ourselves as employers

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  10. Good article and advice to Bowman and others. What will kill people is not freedom of speech but confusion. Bowman says this today, 2moro Kampyongo or Chitotela has to quench the fire. Sampa says this today, 2moro it’s Minister who censure him and Minister is censured by SG. This is a clear case of absence of strategy in the ECL’s admin. No one is understanding current problem and challenges and how to deal with them

  11. I think it’s possible for social media users to speak out without becoming sarcastic and infringing on rights of others. Trouble is we ve donors and ngos waiting to provide lawyers for those who abuse others and we blame courts at day end.

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  12. There should be enough scope in any law especially governing the freedom of expression to both protect the truth and persecute the falsehoods. I do not think we should treat expression like some religious edict that dictates how someone should express themselves. We have lawyers precisely for the benefit of the aggrieved and the unfairly accused. Let all functions and gears of any given law take its course. Enough said.

  13. “…….Youths seem to be waiting for someone to create employment for them and to give them better conditions of service….”

    I blame Zambias education system which has its foundations in a western education system. Africans should follow the Chinese and other far East education systems where patronisim , displine, cleanseness and hard work are indoctrinated in kids from primary school.

    But again with thugs like lungu who sees nothing wrong in distributing books with his face on them , our kids would be exploited by lungu and pf for their political benefits.

    On other parts of this write up…Lungu has destroyed and corrupted every system of governance in Zambia.

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  14. With every freedom there comes responsibility. A lot of people lack the maturity to responsibly use social media. Majority of these are opposition supporters and more so angry diasporans. Just view articles on this website and you will see thr insults directed at the president by some dogs in diaspora like tarino and his retarded fellow diasporans. I believe time has come for us to start taxing these website and access to them to get rid of the childish hyenas. Kz

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  15. Another sufferer of the Dununa Reverse virus.He is trying to use social media convince you that the virus is harmless but its even worse than covid-19
    For the past 6 years Zambia has been ravaged by this Dununa Reverse virus
    1)$19 billion in foreign debt(see 2020 UN debt statistic report)
    2)Currency trading at 15K to 1 USD before covid-19 came
    3)Food basket is above K7,000
    4)Fuel and electricity prices are high
    5)Corruption is rife.
    7)The Democratic space is shrinking.
    etc.
    THE DUNUNA REVERSE VIRUS IS DANGEROUS
    WEAR YOUR MASK AND KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE

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  16. This country is being destroyed by biased media and unregulated social media. Lusaka Times remains one the best media sites for balanced coverage with the exception of cadres from known opposition placed to insult President Lungu on almost each post. Issues raised by Isaac here re vital for everyone to reflect on. From Lungu’s PF to opposition parties and then these artists who just looking for spotlight. I think President Lungu must direct his Government to engage more with society

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  17. The article appears to condemn that which it is defending!! Freedom of speech is exactly that. Consequences of it if wrongly used are guided by laws. Lusambo wanted to infringe that and erred. Call him to order!! Social media bloggers are not the only perpetrators of fake news. ZNBC is the main culprit. Two things to note: closing down of private media killed direct channels for people to air divergent views opening the social media platform to wider viewership. Government fueled this king of media.
    2. When people are angry about governance they speak their mind- you can’t rein in what is on there minds. Only the law can define consequences if the go beyond what there freedom Carter’s for.
    Napwisha

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  18. KZ. You too are part of people who fail to use social media responsibly that even in the society you live in.

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  19. Caleb, media shouldn’t report what suits the government but the truth of what prevails on the ground. Infact the media regardless of platform was supposed to be seen as a friend of the government because it is from such that government can garner information of how they are performing and what areas to improve and not being scared of what gets reported in the media. The people scared of what is reported in the media have skeletons to hide. Why do we champion for a free media and yet want to impose what they should report on or about? This is where we lose it, if you don’t want people to report wrong about you simply don’t do it but if you it by mistake learn from the backlash and change. Only stiff necked people fail to reason and change and go on finding ways to tramp on the media…

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  20. @Kalombo, The Post, Prime TV, CEC or any company owned by people with divergent views come to mind. Hard working Zambians have provided jobs to Zambians, only for Boma to close them down…

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  21. incoherent article tainted with PF know it all mentality. I couldn’t manage to read on the rubbish.

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  22. Carefully written to appeal to PF in the hope of getting favours. Its disguised praise for Lungu and veiled criticism for anyone who criticises PF.

    “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Voltaire, Tallentyre and Hall

    The major complaint is that government is unfairly criticised. But shouldn’t the public see through the lies? If the public ebd up thinking the lies are true then its either your operations are not transparent or what’s written about you is true.

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  23. This country has brains but u can’t have characters like Bowman and think this country will develop. Similarly, clowns like Chella are bored staying home but his mind is under developed to help with constructive debate. I agree with many things in this article

  24. Ba Chief Editor, the moment anyone holds public office, he is accountable to the people, and part of he accountability is the criticism and the praise. Those who are running the affairs of the Govt should be more answerable than Tom or Jerry who is cutting peoples hair or plaiting hair. Why? Because his sphere of influence is much more. Job creation cannot be used as a measure of the right to criticise the Government. Job creation is a measure of the success of the Government. Yes, we want wealth creation in the country, but how many budding Entrepreneurs have “seed” capital? How many can walk into the bank, and get capital? What incentives are in place to promote Local businesses? Pointing these out does not mean one is unpatriotic, no, on the contrary it is the love for the country…

  25. I support free speech and it’s expression but like many other citizens, I feel for great disdain of those who abuse these freedoms. We cannot tolerate stupidity and call it freedom of speech. This isn’t America. Our African culture must be preserved while offering positive criticism. Those NGOs and parties sponsoring these youths and the nonsense are destroying our country.

    • Tebufi Im still blocked:
      This is called an Educative article ?. Mwanza blurts out that we are not as brave as Donald Trump who has been blunt in terming Coronavirus the “Chinavirus”? Ba Mwanza we are not as stoopid as your Trump who in calling covid 19 the China virus is fanning xenophobia. You cant see that ba Mwanza?
      Mwanza then goes on to contradict himself by saying there is no excuse for any of us to become xenophobic against foreign nationals, especially the Chinese bla bla bla

  26. KZ = Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

  27. “Criticism is healthy in a democracy …The media can build or destroy a nation, therefore, let me urge you not to be swayed by the political shenanigans of the outside world as you do your professional work. I, therefore, urge you not to be crusaders of conflict between political players but to provide a forum for public discourse”.

    This is a pure case of “do what I say not what I do”.
    Does any PF have any credentials for press freedom or any other freedom at all?

  28. To be in gooks with PF one has to be a donor to the party, otherwise you are considered an ally of the opposition and your space is restricted.

  29. This guy has a bachelor in law, but his piece of writing is below average. I think he needs to learn how to write. Is there a thesis statement in his writing? Look at the introduction, it consists of question? What is the function of those question? How many paragraphs does the writing have? Some paragraphs are longer, while other contain only one sentence. A paragraph is supposed to have only one point to support the introduction, but this is not the case here. Most of the paragraphs have no point at all. In addition, the conclusion dos not tie with the introduction..

  30. My guy you make sense with your articles. You flow nicely and have a great way of driving your points. No wonder we get carried to read them till the end.

    U raise valid points.

  31. @lookdeeper and your supporters at no point am I saying mwanza doesnt have a right to express himself …can you point where exactly I am saying he cannot ??? The problem is in his article he is implying that he believes the right to expression narrative has to be defined and managed by a few …total rubbish …I am criticizing his opinion and this doesn’t amount to stopping him from expressing himself get your facts right and stop this cadre yapping

  32. This guy has a bachelor in law, but his piece of writing is below average. I think he needs to learn how to write. Is there a thesis statement in his writing? Look at the introduction, it consists of questions? What is the function of those questions? How many paragraphs does the writing have? Some paragraphs are longer, while other contain only one sentence. A paragraph is supposed to have only one point to support the introduction, but this is not the case here. Most of the paragraphs have no point at all. In addition, the conclusion does not tie with the introduction. The guy needs to take a writing class to help him articulate points.

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  33. Freedom of expression is good but not absolute .
    Insulting or disparraging others in the name of freedom of expression is not right as that amounts to abuse.
    It is therefore important to mind our language so as not to demean or discredit others.

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  34. This article fails to point out the fact that almost 90% of Zambian bloggers criticize the RAMPANT CORRUPTION in the PF government, and they’ve evidence to prove it. When people call Lungu and his minions, “corrupt,” they’ve evidence to prove it. What you guys are trying to do is muzzle people up, and stop them from calling out corruption in the country, which is the single most glaring vice that has crippled this country’s progress. For instance, in the recently leaked audio, Lungu himself admits that his ministers are engaging in rampant corruption. What do you expect the Zambian bloggers to do? Just be quiet about it? Thuggish Lusambo’s view is that Zambians are not supposed to call a spade a spade, because the office of the presidency is so respectable. I say RIDICULOUS…

  35. …Zambia is not a monarch. Zambia is a democracy. We call out corruption in the country, and if you guys want the bloggers to stop blogging, prove to us once and for all that PF has not been engaging in rampant corruption. We put these leaders in elected offices and we hold them accountable. We’re their bosses and if they’re doing a lousy job, we have the right to criticize them, or even fire them at the polls. Secondly, job creation has nothing to do with criticizing the government officials for their corruption. If anything, the corruption itself becomes a hindrance to the citizens that may want to create jobs in the country. And that includes the diaspora. Do you know how much corruption you have to go through in Zambia, just so you can acquire land to setup a commercial building?…

  36. … Why don’t you corruption defenders talk about that? Yes, private citizens help create jobs in the country. But the government has a role to play by enabling a conducive environment for citizens to do so. In developed countries like America, the government helps the citizens wanting to start a business by giving them either business grants or loans. Thereafter, the government props you up by giving you incentives to continue expanding your business through tax breaks and other ways. It’s not easy for citizens to start businesses in a country that’s overrun by corruption, load shedding, cheap Chinese goods and an ever depreciating currency. The only people getting rich in Zambia are the criminal politicians helping themselves to corrupt contracts, and the plunder of our natural…

  37. Well articulated article. The writer takes a careful position, however, I appreciate his reminder on what the constitution states regarding protection on Zambian citizens and other nationals residing in Zambia. Also, the importance of media fraternity being careful with what they publish is what contributes to peace in a country. Seriously you can’t have crazies like cash strapped camera man Challah Tukuta ranting nonsensicals on social media, while pretending to care for the voiceless and yet he’s merely looking for a job probably from opposition parties because he cannot have any gigs with his camera during Covid 19. Let’s be careful who we entertain!!

  38. Well articulated article. Let us not allow clowns like Challah Tukuta to cause unnecessary Chaos while searching for his 5 minutes of fame. We have a beautiful and peaceful country to preserve and cherish.

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