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Zambia: Complaining And Complimenting Electronically

Dear Zambia is not your usual website, with content being brewed by boffins in the background. Rather, the content is generated by Zambians who have got beef with anything going wrong in the country, or, indeed, those who have anything good to say about something, which is rare, unfortunately.

The website has different categories, from government (ministries, police, departments, offices), to media (newspapers, television, radio) and embassies (Visas, Embassies/High Commissions to Zambia, etc.)

A timeline on corrupt traffic cops early this year went like this: Kasosi Mpunga wrote:

Share your experiences with services in Zambia. Photo courtesy of Dear Zambia.

Share your experiences with services in Zambia. Photo courtesy of Dear Zambia.

Dear Zambia,
I only hope that the IG reads this or that he could be asked about the complaint I am about to make. I have noticed for a long time that the traffic officers in Lusaka are truly and honestly corrupt and I wonder what the IG is doing about it. Many times I have used Kafue road I have noticed that sometimes there are speed traps or mere road blocks and I see that drivers merely pay the officers. I once saw a track driver get a few K50,000 and give his lorry boy who rushed and gave a police officer and off the went. The man had the audacity to even wink at me. What is the IG doing about this? What is the point of having traffic officers who are bribed and let unroadworthy cars on the road? Does this make sense?

Could digital technology provide the solution to the scourge that has eaten into the Zambian moral fiber, filming police corrupt activities?

Cameraman plans to film corrupt police using his cellphone:

Kasosi,

I am seriously considering filming in secret using my cellphone when I am next caught at a police checkpoint. Or ask a passenger to do that while I bribe my way through. Then, immediately send that clip to the ACC and ZP and all other media outlets like MUVI TV, etc. My aim? To get so much media coverage of the clip that the guilty cop has no option but to resign or get fired.

Another contributor, Kasenengwa, thinks Cameraman is a Zambian who has spent a long time abroad, probably in the west.

Cameraman

I will go out on a limb and declare that you have spent too much time living abroad. You think what works abroad can also work here. And this is where your fantasy begins.

Go ahead and do exactly what you say and see what happens. This is Zambia, my friend. An ex trade union midget stole millions of dollars from the Zambian public. All kinds of evidence was presented against him and his cohorts. Matrix, Katele, what-what. But in the end the little man got off scot-free. These days when you meet him, his wide smile threatens to split his small head in half. His smile is so humongous. In his kaponya style, he is laughing all the way to the bank. All the way.

That's Zambia for you.

One touchy topic discussed under the media timeline was titled “How many True Journalists are left in Zambia?”

Public noted that the craft has been lost in Zambia:

Dear Zambia,

Too many mass communications majors from Unza [the University of Zambia]. They just came out on the other side of the conveyer belt like mass produced identical products in a factory. Don't know **** about journalism. Some of them are just too much. Just some floozy regurgitating second hand opinions and more concerned that their tie looks just right. And making sure they twisted their tongue just right to sound quasi british.

What you wear doesn't make a journalist. A quest for the truth and delivering it without bias or prejudice. That's what's lacking here, in my opinion. This craft has largely been lost.

Concerned about the plummeting journalism standards in Zambia, Journalism Professor observed:

There is actually no journalism in Zambia. Journalists do not even pretend to be fair and balanced any more. Does the Post even claim to be balanced? Does the Times/Daily claim to be balanced? They have even stopped claiming that because they know no one is stupid enough to believe that. But then what were they trained for if not to give balanced and fair information concerning the real facts happening? If there is good news for Sata, it CAN NEVER be on the front page of the Times, if there is good news for Rupiah it can NEVER be on the front page of the Post. NEVER. So there is no journalism. No one is committed to the truth and nothing but the truth any more.

They should not even claim to be the fourth estate, because they don't know what that means. They have no integrity.

There is still room for some humour even if the topic under discussion is serious. Scribbler suggested what Zambians can do to receive balanced new articles:

well the best one can do is buy all three newspapers (Zambia Daily Mail, Times of Zambia and the Post) bind them and make one splendid balanced paper–yes yes?

Under the Embassies category, Zambian diplomatic missions, as are services at foreign diplomatic missions in Zambia, are not spared.

Mwana Chinondo wondered why incompetent individuals are employed to work at Zambian diplomatic missions:

Dear Zambia,

I wonder why we are still appointing unqualified people to posts at the embassies around the world. Every person has a story to tell about some demotivated or incompetent official who gives you lousy service. This is just ridiculous. It's the same in Washington DC, London, Pretoria, Harare etc. They just suck.

Please let's get professional people in these jobs not “babululu [relations]”!

One contributor, JT, gave an account of his personal experience at the Zambian High Commission in London:

I agree with, the Zambian embassy in London is just PATHETIC. When i was living in the UK about a year ago and was trying to follow up the progress on my new passport this is what would happen……. when you call the embassy before lunch nobody would pick up. When you call after lunch they would pick up but tell you that the person who is supposed to attend to you is not back from lunch “Please call after 30 minutes” so you call after 30 minutes and they tell you okey let me transfer you call to the right person. Then the phone would ring and ring and ring then eventually go to voice mail…….and guess what? the voice mail would be full and you wouldn't even be able to leave your message……believe me i never succeeded until someone gave me the mobile number of someone who works there………..even in a foreign country surely we can't learn from the way our friends do things?????????/ Zambian high commission in London 0%.

With all these electronic complaints and complements, it is difficult to tell if anyone, at least in government, is listening.

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