Following the announcement of a new tax on previous calls from internet platforms – WhatsApp, Skype or Viber – the Zambian government emphasizes its desire to retain operators and local jobs. Civil society organizations denounce an obstacle to freedom of expression.
A month after the first statement by Zambian Minister of Communications Brian Mushimba about the need to regulate the Internet and social networks, accused of promoting the "decay of the cultural norms of society", the authorities of Zambia have just announced their intention announced to introduce a daily fee of 30 ngwee (3 euro cents) for telephone calls via internet platforms, of which Skype, WhatsApp and Viber are the best known.
A decision close to that of the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni: since July 1, Ugandans must indeed pay a daily fee of 200 shillings (4 cents) for the use of social networks. But if Kampala clearly raises the need to "prevent gossip and gossip", the Zambian government will introduce economic arguments
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Online telephone services "threaten the telecommunications industry and employment in companies such as Zamtel, Airtel and MTN," said the government spokesman Dora Siliya on Monday, August 20. This contribution is collected by telephone companies and Internet service providers, according to the authorities of Zambia.
"We do not believe in media repression, we believe in freedom of expression, this decision is only economical because we lose money If Skype and WhatsApp make money, why not?" Said Brian Mushimba, interviewed by AFP.
"It is a deliberate attack on freedom of expression and association," said the head of Zambias NGO Bloggers Richard Mulonga. "These people continue to limit our liberties," says human rights activist Brebner Changala.
Since his re-election in 2016, President Edgar Lungu is regularly accused by his political opponents of authoritarian drive. Last year he was sharply criticized by capturing his main rival, Hakainde Hichilema.
In Tanzania too, the government has tightened up its policy on the grid by imposing a mandatory registration on all news sites and streaming websites, for an amount of 2,100,000 shillings, or 750 euros.