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Zambia prosecutes editor of Post

By on July 16, 2009

An editor at Zambia’s biggest-selling newspaper has been charged with distributing obscene materials relating to a health sector crisis.

The Post sent harrowing images of a woman giving birth in the street to government ministers to highlight the effects of a health sector strike.

In May and June, Zambia’s hospitals and clinics ground to a halt as doctors and nurses went on strike over pay.

An official government spokesman declined to comment on the case.

The trial of the Lusaka-based Post’s female news editor, Chansa Kabwela, is due to start at the beginning of August.

Pictures of the woman giving birth, to a child which subsequently died, were taken by a family member and handed to the Post.
Nine months pregnant and unable to afford private care, she had gone into labour.

But with her baby emerging feet first, she was turned away from two clinics and then Zambia’s largest hospital.

Sam Mujuda, the Post’s deputy editor-in-chief, described the pictures as “particularly graphic”.

“I found these pictures quite gruesome and our decision was that we could not publish these pictures,” he said.

“Here was a woman giving birth, it was a breach birth, legs first dangling between the legs of this woman.”

The editors’ decision to post copies of the pictures to government ministers to focus their minds on the consequences of the strike did not go down well, the BBC’s Jonah Fisher reports from Zambia.

At a press conference, Zambian President Rupiah Banda condemned the Post for circulating what he called pornography.

Then, this week, the paper’s Ms Kabwela was charged with distributing obscene materials.

“What I see in those pictures is suffering,” Sam Mujuda added.

“Suffering of a helpless woman who needed assistance. Unfortunately the president and his ministers and some of his supporters have chosen to ignore the plight of that woman.”


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