Newspaper classifications presented in this article are based on conversations with Zambians, and do not represent the views of the author.
By Luke Andrews
Like many countries, Zambia has several newspapers that project different points of view. Local people tend to view them in terms of their relationship with the government. Despite press freedom being enshrined in the country’s constitution, the media is considered to be under government control. Last year a leading independent newspaper was forcibly closed shortly before elections.
The Zambian Daily Mail, The Times of Zambia and The Daily Nation are the three main newspapers. They are circulated daily in the capital, Lusaka, and surrounding provinces. Other newspapers are available which are aimed at a ‘Southern African’ and ‘expat’ audience. The main representatives are the African Independent and the International Express.
Local people view newspapers in terms of their relationship with the government. Some are government-owned, whilst others are independent. In the newspaper categorisation below, they have been divided in terms of government-owned and independent.
Criticising the authorities may be a risky business in Zambia. The media is considered ‘Not Free’ by Freedom House, a US-based NGO that conducts investigations into political freedoms and democracy internationally. The government has previously closed publications that are critical of its activities.
Last year The Post, a politically outspoken independent newspaper, was forcefully closed in the run up to elections. The Zambian Revenue Authority (ZRA) closed the publication claiming that it had $6 million in unpaid taxes. The action drew criticism internationally.
“The closure of The Post newspaper is a disturbing development clearly designed to silence critical media voices” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty Internationals’ Director for Southern Africa.
The United States of America’s embassy in Zambia released a statement criticising the closure.
“The closure of The Post is the loss of an independent voice during the campaign period and election cycle”.
“The United States Government urges the Government of the Republic of Zambia to work with the Zambian Revenue Authority and The Post to find a way forward that allows The Post to reopen immediately”.
Below are the main newspapers, categorised in terms of government-owned or independent.
The Zambian Daily Mail
I read this paper in The Wimpy restaurant at Levy shopping centre. One article that really stuck out was entitled ‘What a man needs from a woman is submission’. In the piece, the author claimed that most woman think that all a man needs is sex and they dress to advertise this. It left me wondering how many woman the author had actually talked to before writing… However, it may be revealing about attitudes to the different sexes in Zambia.
The Times of Zambia
Unfortunately, I am yet to find this newspaper in Lusaka, although I am assured that it is available. I have accessed its online platform which appeared to be very informative about current events in Zambia.
The Daily Nation
Many Zambians that I talked to had a positive view of this newspaper. I have seen it in circulation all over Zambia. You can buy it from street sellers for a few Kwacha.
Controversially, last year The Post newspaper was closed. This is due to the ZRA claiming that it had $6 million in unpaid taxes. Taking a look at some of its previous front cover stories provides hints of its attitude to the government. The forceful closure drew international criticism.
Photo Credit (in order of appearance): Luke Andrews, Luke Andrews, Luke Andrews, The Daily Nation, The Post, Creative Commons, Creative Commons