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CPJ: Zambian officials threaten journalist Wellington Chanda over reporting

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At least four officials with Zambia’s ruling political party, United Party for National Development (UPND), threatened Wellington Chanda, a reporter for the privately owned City TV broadcaster in the northeastern town of Kasama, during two separate phone calls on August 7 and 8, 2022, over a City TV report, according to news reports, a statement by the Zambia chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa press freedom group, the journalist, and recordings of the calls.

The City TV report, which aired on August 7, featured local youth who wanted Elizabeth Goma, a Kasama district commissioner, to leave her position.

Around 9 p.m. on August 7, after the report aired, Goma called Chanda and said the journalist’s report had started “a war” that he “would not end” and accused Chanda of having disseminated “falsehoods,” according to a recording of the call. Chanda responded by reminding Goma that he contacted her for comment before the story aired, but Goma repeated that the journalist had started “a war.” Goma added that she considered Chanda a “son” and said the journalist had been “unfair,” before the line disconnected.

Separately, around 10 a.m. on August 8, Paul Mulenga, chairperson of a UPND youth league in Northern Province, where Kasama is the provincial capital, phoned Chanda in relation to the same broadcast and, in the local Bemba language, said “life is short” and that he would send political operatives to “sort out” the journalist, according to a recording of that call. Mulenga asked Chanda why City TV broadcast the story without notifying him and told the journalist not to report anything about the UPND. Then two other party officials also on the call—Moses Kanyanta, deputy provincial youth chairman, and Doreen Namuchenje, provincial women’s chairperson—repeated the threats.

Chanda told CPJ in a recent interview via messaging app that he has continued to work as a journalist but remained concerned that the UPND would send agents to harm him.

CPJ’s repeated calls to Goma, Mulenga, Namuchenje, and Kanyanta rang unanswered.

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