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International Call for Solidarity With Director of The Post in Zambia

The Dawn News / June 27, 2016-. Massive repudiation of the detention of Director of The Post Newspaper and others who were also beaten by the police of the Zambian Government.

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The Post Newspaper in Zambia: Closure of the country’s only independent paper and arrest of Fred M’Membe and others

#wakeupcall" data-image-description="<p><img src="http://www.shunya.net/Pictures/South%20India/Mahabalipuram/AntiWaterPrivatization.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>SATURDAY, 04 AUGUST 2012 00:08 RAJESH KUMAR | NEW DELHI</p> <p>Following Planning Commission’s directions, <a class="zem_slink" title="Delhi Jal Board" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi_Jal_Board" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Delhi Jal Board</a> (DJB) has approved a proposal to involve <a class="zem_slink" title="Public–private partnership" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public%E2%80%93private_partnership" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Public Private Partnership</a> (PPP) for better distribution and maintenance of water supply in <a class="zem_slink" title="Malviya Nagar (Delhi)" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=28.5378,77.2167&spn=0.01,0.01&q=28.5378,77.2167 (Malviya%20Nagar%20%28Delhi%29)&t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Malviya Nagar</a>, <a class="zem_slink" title="Mehrauli" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=28.5158333333,77.1775&spn=0.1,0.1&q=28.5158333333,77.1775 (Mehrauli)&t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">Mehrauli</a> and <a class="zem_slink" title="Vasant Vihar" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasant_Vihar" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Vasant Vihar</a> in south Delhi areas.</p> <p>DJB’s high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister <a class="zem_slink" title="Sheila Dikshit" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Dikshit" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Sheila Dikshit</a> on Friday approved a proposal to this effect. The <a class="zem_slink" title="Government of Delhi" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_Delhi" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Delhi Government</a> will brief the Planning Commission about the proposal. Under the project, the entire distribution network in a particular area would be handed over to the private parties. They would be in-charge of maintaining the water pipeline networks. They would be responsible for repairing all leaking pipelines in the locality.</p> <p>The decision was taken to save distribution losses which ranges between 40 to 50 per cent, sources said.</p> <p>According to the proposal, a total of 32.21 square km would be covered in the pilot project.  Messers Suez Environment India Private Limited and, SPML Infra Limited and Degremont would look into Malviya Nagar project while M/s SPML Infra Limited, Tahal Consulting Engineers and Hagihon Jerusalem Water and Wastewater Works would look into Mehrauli and Vasant Vihar distribution system. The Degremont is the same company, handling the Sonia Vihar water treatment plant which supplies water in South Delhi areas.</p> <p>The contracts would be awarded for 10-12 years for the key operators. Under the project, the assets will remain with the DJB and the Board would pay to private parties for distribution and maintenance.</p> <p>Cost of Rs 253.30 crore is estimated for Malviya Nagar project, including recovery of 30 per cent operator’s contribution in Rs 87.68 crore (Rs 171.62 crore – Rs 83 crore) of rehabilitation and development cost. For Mehrauli and Vasant Vihar projects, the estimated cost is Rs 201 crore. The areas to be covered in Malviya Nagar include Khirki, Saket, Adhchini, Begumpuri, Chirag Delhi, Hauz Rani, Shivalik, Pushp Vihar, Sheikh Sarai, Qutub Institutional Areas, Nav Jeevan, <a class="zem_slink" title="Sarvodaya Enclave" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarvodaya_Enclave" rel="wikipedia" target="_blank">Sarvodaya Enclave</a>; Qutub, Lal Tanki, Bawaji Wala, Kishan garh and Garhwal colony in Mehrauli areas; West End Enclave, Shanti Niketan, Anand Niketan in Vasant Vihar areas.</p> <p>After the meeting, Dikshit told that the <a class="zem_slink" title="Planning Commission (India)" href="http://planningcommission.nic.in/" rel="homepage" target="_blank">Planning Commission of India</a> had approved the proposal and this model would be different. “In this model, the assets will remain with DJB. This will ensure up-gradation to un-interrupted and pressurised water supply, reduction in the coping costs, minimal chances of contamination, free of cost change in service lines, prompt grievances redressal and improvement in services to consumers at no extra cost. It will increase revenue generation and will also reduce energy consumption,” she said.</p> <p>It may be noted that DJB supply 76 MLD water per day to Malviya Nagar; 10-13 MLD in Mehrauli and 7 MLD in Vasant Vihar. Total 32,148 jal board connections are registered in Malviya Nagar which has a population of 3.82 lakh, while 7,216 connections in Mehrauli having population of 1.87 lakh. In Vasant Vihar, the population is nearly 50,000 and estimated connections are 6,847.</p> <p>Since 2002, the Delhi Government has been planning to initiate water sector reforms on the lines of the proposals given by the World Bank. DJB also appointed <a class="zem_slink" title="PwC" href="http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=51.5079833333,-0.124663888889&spn=0.01,0.01&q=51.5079833333,-0.124663888889 (PwC)&t=h" rel="geolocation" target="_blank">PricewaterHouseCoopers</a> as the consultant for the project. PWC suggested that DJB enter into contracts with companies who would manage the distribution network. But by 2006, the whole issue died down due to large scale protests. In 2011, the Delhi Government appointed a committee under the chairman of PK Tripathi to suggest a roadmap for water distribution reforms.</p> <h6 class="zemanta-related-title" style="font-size:1em;">Related articles</h6> <ul class="zemanta-article-ul"> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2158349/The-water-crisis-brings-woes-Vasant-Vihar.html?ITO=1490" target="_blank">The water crisis brings woes for Vasant Vihar</a> (dailymail.co.uk)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.ndtv.com/article/cities/delhi-government-planning-to-privatise-water-sector-239143" target="_blank">Delhi government planning to privatise water sector</a> (ndtv.com)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2158288/Capital-drought-South-Delhi-residents-feel-pain-city-thirsts-clean-water.html?ITO=1490" target="_blank">Capital drought: South Delhi residents feel the pain as the city thirsts for clean water</a> (dailymail.co.uk)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2158907/Capitals-thirsty-lot-At-tanker-mafias-mercy.html?ITO=1490" target="_blank">Capital’s thirsty lot: At the tanker mafia’s mercy</a> (dailymail.co.uk)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://r.zemanta.com/?u=http%3A//india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/delhis-water-woes-make-the-heat-worse/&a=98473908&rid=000001dd-02cd-000F-0000-00000000184b&e=b53015ed6e0a75df6e030f2cc299359b" target="_blank">Delhi’s Water Woes Make the Heat Worse</a> (india.blogs.nytimes.com)</li> </ul> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-6219" src="http://www.thedawn-news.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/unnamed-5.jpg" sizes="(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px" srcset="http://www.thedawn-news.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/unnamed-5.jpg 960x, http://www.thedawn-news.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/unnamed-5-300x200.jpg 300x, http://www.thedawn-news.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/unnamed-5-768x512.jpg 768x, http://www.thedawn-news.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/unnamed-5-83x55.jpg 83x" alt="unnamed (5)" width="960" height="640" />

Outside the Office of The Post Newspaper in Zambia, after being detained: Fred M’Membe, Director of The Post, her wife Mutinta and Joseph Mwenda, Chief Editor. 

The Post Newspaper in Zambia is now 25 years old. It was a product of the emergency of multiparty politics and the democratisation of the political space in 1991. It is Zambia’s leading independent newspaper and print media organization with offices in 15 Zambian towns, a circulation of 50,000 copies and has an estimated readership of around 550,000 people (in a population of 16 million people). It employs about 1,000 full-time staff and a good number of part-time staff, correspondents, casuals and street vendors all over Zambia.

It epitomises freedom of speech, civil courage and resilience in a harsh political environment. Zambia’s political leadership has an uncontested monopoly over the public print and electronic media, has politically and economically coerced the few existing private media houses into submission and harshly suppresses divergent and critical views.

Over the past two decades, The Post Newspaper has stood firm and exposed corruption, malpractices and inertia in public institutions and government. As such, it has faced countless litigations, arrest and imprisonment of its reporters – with the Managing Director, Fred M’Membe being a target for more than 50 lawsuits and being

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On the Left: Chief Editor Joseph Mwenda and Fred M’Membe, Director of The Post

Internationally, M’membe has continued to receive awards for his immense contributions. He was the third recipient of the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s Press Freedom Award in 1995. MISA described him as “the most persecuted journalist” in his country and the rest of the region. In the same year, he won the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists – an annual recognition of courageous journalism. In 2000, he was selected by the International Press Institute as one of the 50 “World Press Freedom Heroes” of the organization’s fifty years of existence. He has continued to receive many more awards and recognitions from international institutions and media professional bodies.

The current government, under President Edgar Lungu, has made its intentions very clear: it declared war on the newspaper, threatened to kill the Managing Director and threatened to indefinitely close the newspaper.

On the 21st June, 2016 around 17:00 Zambian time, the Zambia Revenue Authority, under instructions from the President of the country, arrived at the newspaper offices in the company of armed police and demanded that the newspaper pays a total of US$6.1 million disputed tax arrears immediately. The staff of the newspaper was immediately chanced out of the offices, the printing press switched off and all offices locked up. The aim is now to dispose off all operating assets of the newspaper and cripple it.

Following the closure of the newspaper, there has been a huge uproar amongst the country’s opposition political parties, civil society and the general public in Zambia. Even the US government, the United Nations and the European Union have released statement protesting on the forced shutdown of The Post Newspaper, so outrageous it is.

The latest attack from the Zambian government to The Post Newspaper was carried out yesterday, 27th June. After the Revenue Tribunal demanded that The Post reopens, the government defied the order. The police came to Fred M’Membe, his wife Mutinta Mazoka, and the News Editor Joseph Mwenda. They were severely beaten and arrested and are now incarcerated at Lusaka Central Police. This is a terrible development, proving that the Zambian government is becoming more repressive and dangerous.

Without The Post Newspaper, the country is now without a critical mouthpiece during the on-going general and presidential elections’ campaign. The 11th August 2016 is the voting day. The ruling Patriotic Front under President Lungu has therefore timely taken away the only platform Zambians have continually used to expose corruption and other malpractices during elections times. With the closure of The Post, the little remaining resemblance of freedom of speech and of the media has disappeared.


Related links:

Reuters | 22 June 2016

“Zambia shuts down newspaper in tax dispute”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-zambia-media-idUSKCN0Z8297

Deutsche Welle | 22 June 2016

“Zambia shuts down independent newspaper ahead of elections”

http://www.dw.com/en/zambia-shuts-down-independent-newspaper-ahead-of-elections/a-19348799

Amnesty International UK | 22 June 2016

“Zambia’s closure of ‘The Post’ newspaper is an attack on media freedom”

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/zambias-closure-post-newspaper-attack-media-freedom

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