The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders has further consolidated the continuation of the Zambian Watchdog, an online whistleblower publication the Zambian government has tried to shut down through various means.
HumanIPO reported yesterday three government websites went down, which was reportedly the result of technology acquired in China in an effort to shut down the Zambian Watchdog.
Reporters Without Borders, also known as Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), is hosting the Zambian Watchdog mirror site, which is also available through proxies.
Speaking to HumanIPO Lloyd Himaambo, editor of the Zambian Watchdog, said the mirror site had been created yesterday.
“It was blocked from inside Zambia three hours later. What is working now are the proxies. They have blocked some [of the proxies], but many others are working and we can see that a great deal of readers are learning to use proxies,” said Himaambo.
The RSF is an international non-profit and non-governmental organisation, which seeks to promote and defend the freedom of the press and information. The RSF has consultant status with the United Nations.
“We feel humbled that Reporters Without Borders has come on board and fighting on our side,” said Himaambo.
“The mirror website is a direct response by the international community to the blocking of the Zambian Watchdog from inside Zambia. It is meant for the readers in Zambia to access the original site which is blocked,” said the Zambian Watchdog.
The Zambian Watchdog said the website operates the same way in which the original site did. The publications’ readers are able to access content and post comments.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Zambian authorities to cease their persistent harassment of the Zambian Watchdog. This follows the arrest of Wilson Pondamali, a journalist, who was accused of contributing to the online publication.
“It is alarming to see a democratically elected government determined to silence and intimidate its critics,” said Sue Valentine, CPJ Africa program coordinator.
On Wednesday Valentine said: “On the eve of Nelson Mandela’s birthday, we call on president Michael Sata to honour freedom of speech and heed Mandela’s words that a critical, independent, and investigative press in the lifeblood of any democracy.”
Regarding the battle between the Zambian Watchdog and president Michael Sata and his government, Himaambo told HumanIPO: “We haven’t won yet, but we are about to.”