The Plight of the Zambian Watchdog: Embattled Opposition News Site Goes Down

14 October 2016

Digital Content

Popular investigative news site the Zambian Watchdog has allegedly been shut down by the Zambian government. Both the website and Facebook page have been inaccessible since September 21.

On September 28, state agents armed with an AK47 rifles raided the Lusaka offices of web hosting company Hai Telecommunications in search of Zambian Watchdog servers. No official statement has been released by the authorities about the website's closure, and it is unclear whether the Facebook page was shuttered by the company or by its own administrators (perhaps at the government's behest). Zambia has no known record of asking Facebook to remove content from its network.

The closure and the raid may represent a turning point in a long-standing cat-and-mouse game between the government and the controversial news website. The Watchdog, which includes Zambian journalists both in the US and abroad (many of whom write anonymously), has a reputation for hard-nosed investigative reporting and and for more sensational coverage of the news. The Watchdog has been a vocal critic of the ruling Patriotic Front party since it took power in 2011.
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Source: Global Voices Online 11 October 2016