“We are where we are because of the international solidarity we share…
…If it wasn’t for that we would have perished many years ago”
Zambia’s The Post Editor-in-Chief and
IPI World Press Freedom Hero Fred M’membe
Zambia’s The Post Editor-in-Chief and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Fred M’membe was arrested on July 16, 2015 on charges of publishing classified information after The Post revealed that Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission was investigating a political adviser to President Edgar Lungu. Later released on bail, M’membe faces a minimum of 15 years in prison if convicted. A Post journalist, Mukosha Funga, is also facing charges in the case.
As editor-in-chief of Zambia’s leading independent daily, M’membe has frequently faced legal harassment. The Post’s investigations into government corruption and abuses of power have led to the filing of more than 50 lawsuits against M’membe, who has faced more than 100 years in jail over the course of his career.
In a recent interview with IPI, M’membe emphasised the importance of the support he has received from IPI and other international organisations.
“We are where we are because of the international solidarity we share. If it wasn’t for that we wouldn’t be here today, we would have perished many years ago […]. We have a duty to support the work being done by the IPI and other media institutions. Our commitment to the IPI is not optional, it’s mandatory for us.”
IPI urged Zambian authorities to thoroughly investigate a recent incident in which an unidentified gunman fired a bullet into The Post’s Lusaka newsroom, triggering panic among the paper’s staff. The incident occurred shortly after President Lungu accused M’membe and The Post of trying to set the political agenda ahead of next year’s presidential elections to serve their own economic interests.
“Look, I’m a journalist, I will live the way I have lived. If that takes me to death, let it be”
Interview with Fred M'membe
1. Last month, President Lungu made public remarks that have widely been interpreted as a death threat against you. What was your reaction to these remarks? Have they caused you to fear for your safety?
5. What has the reaction of international organisations such as IPI meant to you in this case?
2. What do you believe has prompted the President’s strong reaction to The Post’s reporting in this particular case?
6. What impact does the Zambian state have on media independence?
3. What is the current status of the legal case against you and Mukosha Funga?
7. You mentioned the abuse of government advertising as one threat to media independence. To what extent has this practice affected The Post?
4. We understand that there has been a large degree of social media abuse directed against you and The Post. Can you speak a bit about this and how it has affected your work?
“I am grateful for your support, and for the IPI’s work in general. We are really grateful for the work you are doing”