The Post Newspaper of Zambia has published a number of verifiably false news articles to attack political opponents of the government, says Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer acting on behalf of the former President Rupiah Banda.
“There is now evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Post has deliberately published false news to attack opponents of the ruling Patriotic Front party,” said Mr. Amsterdam. “The editor of the Post, Fred M’membe, has forfeited his right to call himself a journalist by acting as a propaganda outlet for the PF and misinforming the public, with possibly dangerous consequences.”
On June 12 and 13, 2012, The Post Newspaper published two articles alleging that the former President Banda suffered a home robbery in which large amounts of cash went missing. However, a letter written to the editors of the Post dated July 11, 2012 from the Inspector General of the Police clearly states the information published in The Post was false.
A copy of the letter from the Zambian Inspector-General of the Police has been published on Mr. Amsterdam’s website.
On Friday July 20, 2012, The Post Newspaper also published an article citing an “anonymous source” which sought to divide the two main opposition parties by implying that former President Banda was against a future Bemba president, referring to the country’s largest tribal grouping.
The Post article, which did not attempt to contact the individuals mentioned, and which was not published on the Post’s website, served as a pretext for immediate attack statements from President Michael Sata and more than six follow-up articles in the Post and other state-owned newspapers. According to Mr. Amsterdam, Former President Banda has denied the alleged statements as pure fiction, but the Post has refused to examine the non-existent origin of the news.
“The Post has become famous for repeatedly publishing fake news stories – including articles which once claimed that Henry Banda was in Kenya’s State House when the government was fully aware of his location, causing a diplomatic incident,” said Amsterdam. “We are demanding a full retraction of the false news article concerning Former President Banda published on July 20, and shall be initiating a full audit of the Post’s editorial practice by a third party independent expert.”