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Zambia: President's Son Threatens Journalist

A senior Zambia journalist recently received threats from the son of the Zambian president Rupiah Banda, James, following a story that appeared on the Zambian Watchdog, a leading investigative journalism website, alleging that James was a thief and was involved in major government deals and also State House officials are drunks and start drinking as early as 15.00 hours during working days. The story was titled “President Banda’s thieving son and corrupt drunkards who run Zambia’ State House.”

The story was quite descriptive of what deals James is involved in, the pubs that the officials patronise and what type of drinks they take.

The journalist, Anthony Mukwita, editor of the Bulletin and the Record and Bloomberg Zambian correspondent apparently received a phone call from James, accusing him of authoring the story which did not carry a by-line. Lately, there have been anonymous documents and stories turning up on the Internet and this one is no different. It is, however, not clear why James picked on Mukwita.

Mukwita is himself no stranger to controversy. One day in 2004, during a live phone-in programme he presented on a private commercial radio station, he “ripped and read” a fax message which was termed as seditious by government at the time. He fled persecution and turned up in Australia where he took up further studies in journalism before returning to Zambia in late 2009. The Zambia Watchdog is also no stranger to controversy or court cases.

Last year, a ruling MMD politician was jailed for assaulting journalists but whether the Zambian police will do anything about the threat by James Banda against Mukwita is difficult to say as at the time the story was being written for Zambian Watchdog, the police officers at the police station where the matter was reported were still consulting their superiors.

Although the original story has since been pulled out of the Zambian Watchdog and Zedleaks websites, the story of the threat which was posted on the same website has attracted a number of responses [Note: the website does not have permanent link feature for individual comments]:

Punta wrote on 27 April, 2011, 19:41:

My advice to you James is that fight another category of people to fight. Journalists will finish you like nothing you know. Wait

Chi…h Chobe (name abridged for being too vulgar) wrote on 27 April, 2011, 20:21:

I hope the threats reported on Mukwita are not real. I find them if true a bit worrying to RB [President Rupiah Banda] and the MMD. The time for intimidating people who hold different opinions to yours is long gone. I had doubts over the Drunken Master and the Chines Bar story, however this has just been confirmed by the reaction of JIMBO (James Banda) and BLING BLING DICK (Dickson Jere, presidential aide in charge of public relations) head. There reaction is nothing but a confirmation of the story. Like they say the truth Hurts and we look forward to hurt those that peddle them. This Duo thinks they run Zambia and can do as they wish. Let me warn them that life has a tendency of catching up with crooks. You may run and hide some time but indeed not all the time. To the police and all those that like keeping quite when the MMD is involved in shoddy things time will come when your time of reckoning will present itself. Keeping quiet and ignoring an evil deed is the same as committing it yourself. Charles Taylor did not lift a gun to kill people in Sera Leon but is being prosecuted for crimes committed by those below him. Now I understand the frequent visits to Libya, i bet Jimbo was always on those trips and a bit of Gadhafi’s sons behavior has rubbed on him. If the duo feel they have been unjustly represented let them go to court is that what they have advising other to do. But this cant be ,for they know there is some truth to the story. Bravo to the writer of that article “Tujili jili ( a form of local spirit)Drinkers running state house” it really hit them below the b.a.l.s.

Yambayamba wrote on 27 April, 2011, 22:51:

Hope Jimbo and his ilk have stolen enough to support themselves outside of Zambia once their “Mambala” father leaves States House. I don’t understand why you can’t just build legitimate businesses that would survive beyond your Dad’s presidency. You are busy wasting time and opportunity building sand castles which will crumble the minute your father looses an election.

Is it an Africa thing to behave so stupidly just because your dad is the Head of state?

This is the time for you Jimbo to learn from other African sons and daughters whose fathers have been Presidents—-corruption has not brought them any lasting fame or joy, but a lot of problems. So be careful what you do. Achieve something legal and concrete before it is too late. Whatever you have gotten illegitimately has the potential to be investigated and taken away from you once your father leaves office. It is amazing how people can’t learn from mistakes of others!!!!!!!!!!

Mulongoti wrote on 27 April, 2011, 22:59:

Proof please!! Just a lot of rubbish. Jimbo is not president. RB is president. If your child has been in a fight at school, it does not mean the father should lose his job. Kaponya behaviour iyo (that is ruffian behaviour). So pliz lets focus on jimbo instead of RB. If you have any proof then take it to the police/ACC/DEC or lets see it. Dont just use your influence as a journalist to bring down pipo you envy. Dont believe everything the press says.

viva rb wrote on 27 April, 2011, 23:13:

SORRY BUT THIS IS BULLS..T LEAVE THE FAMILY ALONE MAN OBVIOUSLY THIS IS THE OPPOSITION DOING THIS. SORRY BUT F..K ZAMBIAN MEDIA

On the Zedleaks website, these were the reactions.

zed said:

Where is Mubarak’s son…Gbagbo’s son..soon Gadaffi’s son..soon Banda’s sons…only time will tell…

Sola said:

Both Jimbo and anthony are fools. However, anthony has too much hatred. One can actually feel it from his articles. Its too much. Just state the facts, and we can do the maths.

In every election year, journalists from both the state and the private sector do not have it easy. Journalists in state media organisations are either attacked by the opposition for allegedly writing negatively about them, or those perceived to be sympathetic to the opposition are harassed. Those in the private sector are accused of being anti-establishment and are usually targeted by ruling party cadres and the state security apparatus.

Mukwita’s case is just but one of the many of this nature but what is worrying is if James Banda carries out the threat.

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