Zambia admits blocking critical online site

Zambia Vice-President Dr Guy Scott. FILE 

Zambia's government Thursday confirmed an online publication critical of the current regime has been blocked by a "well-wisher".

Vice-President Guy Scott told the privately-owned daily The Post that the online publication, Zambian Watchdog, has been promoting hate speech.

"The Post has always been a champion of free speech. We're champions of free speech, but not where invective is being applied to women," Dr Scott was quoted as saying.

"The government is being accused of Satanism. Mr [Zambia President Michael] Sata's is being denounced every week, this is not free speech. This is hate speech, trying to create discontent."

"If you go for instance to Austria, you're allowed to say whatever you like except when you say Jews were not murdered...there was no holocaust, they put you in jail because that is encouraging hatred of the Jews. The difference is very clear."

He defended the government against mounting criticism from both local and international journalist bodies.

"All this hullabaloo from the Committee to Protect Journalists and so forth, we stand with them when it comes to free speech but if its hate speech ,we don't stand by them. We welcome the end of the Watchdog, if it dies of its own rabies, it's okay," he said.

The blocking of the site, which was left to rumour for weeks, has sparked widespread concern and raised a storm on social websites like Facebook.

Some critics say the move is meant to intimidate media critical of the President Michael Sata regime.

It is difficult to contact the people who ran the site as say they prefer anonymity for fear of reprisals.

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