1. Uproar after embassies fly gay pride flags in Zambia

    Swedish and Finnish embassies in Zambia are facing a backlash in the country after raising the rainbow flag along with their own national flags on their premises on Tuesday.

    Same-sex relationships are outlawed in Zambia, where British colonial-era laws on homosexuality still apply.

    The Swedish embassy in Zambia tweeted the rainbow flag using the hashtag #Idahot2022, which stands for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.

    "LGBTIQ rights are human rights - always and everywhere," the tweet said.

    The Finnish ambassador also tweeted "standing together for human rights".

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    Former Zambian diplomat Emmanuel Mwamba has demanded answers from the country's foreign ministry, The Lusaka Times website reports.

    "It is surprising that these embassies chose to fly these flags at their premises without due regard to the law and cultural sensitivity of Zambians and Zambia on the matter,” he is quoted as saying.

    In December 2019, the US recalled its ambassador to Zambia over a diplomatic row after he had criticised the imprisonment of a gay couple.

    The Zambian government had accused the ambassador of trying to dictate policy.

  2. Zambian peacekeeper adopts baby from CAR

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    Army Captain Mwila Chansa with baby Thabo

    Zambian army Captain Mwila Chansa has spoken of her battle to adopt a baby she first met while on deployment as a UN peacekeeper in the Central African Republic.

    The baby girl's mother was pregnant with twins, but developed a complication and died after giving birth to the first baby in November 2020. The second child died before birth.

    Captain Chansa visited Birao, near the border with Sudan and Chad, in March 2021 when she heard the story of the baby - who was by then under the care of a nurse in the Zambian camp.

    She made a decision to adopt it, but the bureaucracy turned into a long and laborious process in navigating the country’s Islamic law.

    "I went to Google, trying to look up how to adopt a child from CAR. All the information was about USAid and how easy it is for Americans generally to adopt children. But there was nothing in regards to a Zambian adopting a child there," she told the BBC.

    Captain Mwila Chansa with baby Thabo

    The captain said her "deep conviction" saw her "fight tooth and nail" to "engage the powers that be until the baby was here [Zambia's capital, Lusaka]".

    "It just reminds me so much of the story of the biblical Moses,” she said.

    “Adopting a child is like falling in love. You see so many men or so many women but you only choose one."

    Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema heralded Captain Chansa for demonstrating humanity in her work.

    The presidential approval invited more attention.

    “I woke up, my phone was buzzing. I was wondering what was going on?” she said.

    She has big ambitions for her baby daughter who she named Thabo.

    “I would wish for her to be the president of the Central African Republic. I say that without flinching,” she said.

  3. Macky 2: I want to quit with people still clapping

    DJ Edu

    Presenter of This Is Africa on BBC World Service

    Macky 2
    Image caption: Is Macky 2 Zambia's richest artist?

    It is not often we hear an African giant tell us it is time he stepped down to make way for new talent, let alone that he plans to dedicate himself to promoting the next generation. But that is exactly what Zambia’s Macky 2 told me when I caught up with him for This Is Africa.

    Macky 2 is, by his own estimation, Zambia’s biggest artist, and, some claim, he is the country’s richest. (He tells me he doesn’t have access to others’ bank accounts, so has no idea if this is true, but confirms he is comfortable.)

    His first big hit was back in 2011, and he won album of the year and song of the year at the Zambian Music Awards in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

    In 2014 he caught the attention of the TV viewing public across Africa, when he made it to the last three in the ninth and final series of Big Brother Africa.

    Since then he has been trying to capitalise on the fame he gained to push his music internationally, but it has been a challenge.

    “Back home I can record a song and I know people on radio and TV, people know me, so it’s on radio and the next week it’s on the charts - but internationally it is much more complicated than that.”

    One thing Macky 2 came to realise was that those African countries whose music has a lot of success around the continent, start from a very strong fan base at home.

    “I think Nigerian music and South African music and Tanzanian music - all this music is big because the people from where the music was made really support it.”

    This hasn’t always been the case in Zambia.

    “Zambian music of course has grown in the last 10 to 15 years. People in neighbouring countries like Malawi, Namibia and Zimbabwe listen to our music quite a lot.

    “But I think one of the problems we had in the past was a certain inferiority complex. We appreciated what was foreign more than our own things.

    “But now I see this changing. Every show that I go to is sold out. So in terms of the love we have here, it’s great.

    "Last year I did a song with Aka. It was my first big international collaboration and I felt like this is the right time - because I have the backing of my people now more than ever and I knew that if the song goes on Trace or Channel O, I already have people who are going to request for the song and support it - and that’s what you need.”

    So what’s all this about quitting music?

    “I’m working on my last album. I hope one day I’ll be able to come back and look at this and say why was I even thinking of quitting…

    “But for now that’s where I’m at. I feel like a great artist needs to know when to leave the stage. I think it’s always great when you leave the stage while people are still clapping, and I feel as artists we should learn to pass the torch to the next person, to be ready to let others lead. I’ll be in the background.

    “I’ve always had a label that promotes young, emerging artists and that’s really what I want to focus on now.

    “We need more people who understand how the business works, who can help these artists move from zero to a hundred real quick, without having to go through what we went through.”

    I wonder if any African presidents are reading this? Hope so!

    You can hear my conversation with Macky 2 on This Is Africa on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa this weekend.

  4. Zambian faces Russian jail for twerking at war memorial

    Tionge Ziba
    Image caption: Tionge Ziba apologised during her interrogation, saying she did not mean to cause offence

    Zambia’s foreign ministry has confirmed that a 21-year-old Zambian student was arrested last Sunday in Russia for twerking at a World War Two memorial in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk.

    Tionge Ziba, a first-year student at Khanty-Mansiysk's Yugra State University, has been released from custody on bail but her case has been passed on to the city’s prosecutor, the ministry says.

    The video of her dancing on the Eternal Flame war memorial was filmed on 14 April, the statement said.

    Ms Ziba then reportedly posted the video to Instagram two days later with the caption: “Shaking… for the dead, sure they are sleeping well tonight”, which court documents given to Zambia’s embassy in Moscow describe as an “offensive caption allegedly joking about Nazism”.

    The regional investigative department posted a video of Ms Ziba apologising for her dance, though at the time it did not identify her by name or nationality.

    “I want to apologise to everyone for the video I posted on 16 April,” she says in English.

    “I posted a video of me dancing on this monument and I didn’t intend it to be offensive - or disrespectful to those who died.

    “I’m very, very sorry to everyone. I hope I’m understood and forgiven.”

    Zambia’s foreign ministry says its embassy has been told that the police will investigate the case over the next three months and “the exercise will be conducted in a humane manner to avoid interference with Ms Ziba’s academic calendar”.

    According to the privately owned Kommersant newspaper, she could face a fine of between $25,000 and $65,000 (£20,000 and £50,000), forced labour for a term of one to five years or imprisonment for a term of up to five years.

  5. New book explores hidden life of Lusaka street children

    Stock image of dark street
    Image caption: Lusaka's street children are often victims of violence, Chris Lockhart says

    A lot of street children living in Zambia's capital Lusaka have family and often start off on the streets as "part-timers", a new book on the topic by American anthropologist Chris Lockhart says.

    "Sometimes they spend their days on the street but their nights back at home", he told the BBC's Newsday programme. But they are sometimes sent to the streets by their parents due to rampant poverty.

    "They have to pull them out of schools and have them work on the streets", Mr Lockhart said.

    The plan is usually for the children to re-enter education, but in many cases this never happens, he continued.

    "They steal, they beg, they sell glue and other drugs, they get connected in with gangs who are into petty theft and other things like that, some informal work does take place."

    His new book, titled Walking the Bowl, took five years to write and was compiled through researchers who embedded themselves into Lusaka street culture.

    It is difficult to estimate how many street children there are in Africa, but many of them are at risk of becoming victims of violence and "turn up dead and murdered almost everyday", Mr Lockhart explained.

    His book was co-authored alongside former Zambian street child and social worker, Daniel Mulilo Chama.

  6. Zambians urge BlackRock to ease up on debt repayments

    BBC World Service

    BlackRock's offices in New York City, US.

    Civil society organisations in Zambia have called on the US investment firm BlackRock to delay or cancel debt interest payments, warning that government spending is being severely affected.

    Campaigners say Zambia has had to cut its education, health and social care budgets as it tries to service $13bn (£10bn) worth of external debt.

    Almost half is owed to private lenders. The country has been struggling financially for several years.

    It became the first in Africa to default during the coronavirus pandemic.

    BlackRock refused to suspend debt interest payments in 2021. The International Monetary Fund has provisionally agreed to give Zambia more than $1bn in credit over the next three years.

  7. Zambia defends importing power poles amid backlash

    A wooden electrical pole
    Image caption: Zambia hopes to connect 60,000 new users to the power grid by the end of year

    Zambia's energy minister says the country will go ahead with plans to import electrical poles despite a call for them to be sourced locally.

    Many had felt the government should fulfil its pre-election promise to help local entrepreneurs and farmers by procuring the treated wooden poles at home.

    But Energy Minister Peter Chibwe said it was more "prudent" to procure the poles at factory costs from abroad.

    His statement added that importing the poles would lead to a "serious reduction in cutting down of trees for making charcoal and hence the slowing down of deforestation in Zambia at a time we are facing effects of climate change".

    Mr Chibwe said the poles would help clear 60,000 pending connections through the better distribution of power.

    Other items to be imported include insulators, earthing materials, transformers and cables.

  8. Zambian football medic dies after Nigeria-Ghana game

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    Dr Joseph Kabungo
    Image caption: Dr Joseph Kabungo was known in Zambia as a permanent presence at football events

    One of Zambia’s celebrated medical doctors has died after the Nigeria versus Ghana World Cup qualifying game on Tuesday night, when Nigerian fans started attacking players and staff on the field and caused a stampede.

    It is not clear how Dr Joseph Kabungo died - there are some reports that he suffered a heart attack.

    He was one of the medical personnel for the match in Abuja as Nigeria drew with their with their arch-rivals 1-1, leading to Ghana qualifying on the away goals rule.

    Ugly scenes then ensued as angry Super Eagles fans peppered players with water bottles thrown from the stands as they left the pitch, with police reportedly using teargas to disperse the crowd.

    The Nigerian authorities have yet to comment publicly on the incident.

    The medic was a permanent fixture at major footballing events, including the most recent Fifa Arab Cup in Qatar and the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

    His unexpected death has left Zambia's footballing fraternity in mourning.

    “We extend our sincere condolences to Dr Kabungo’s family and the football family at large,” Zambia FA president Andrew Kamanga said in a statement confirming the death.

    Zambian football legend Kalusha Bwalya, who was close friends with Mr Kabungo was in shock, telling the BBC he couldn't believe the news.

    Dr Kabungo was the national team medic when the southern African country lifted their historic Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 2012.

    He was also part of the Fifa and Confederation of African Football (Caf) medical committees at the time of his death.

  9. Hotel and helicopters seized from ex-Zambia minister

    Zambia's Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji
    Image caption: Mr Malanji served in the cabinet of former President Edgar Lungu

    Former Zambia's Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji has been arrested for alleged money-laundering activities.

    The authorities said Mr Malanji was arrested for owning a hotel suspected to be bought by proceeds of crime.

    He is also suspected to have procured a helicopter $700,000 (£530,000) from proceeds of crime.

    Mr Malanji has previously denied the allegations.

    He was arrested by the anti-money laundering unit of Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), becoming the second ex-minister to be arrested in a week after former justice minister Given Lubinda who was charged on Tuesday.

    “The hotel has since been seized together with the two helicopters, the other one being the helicopter he was arrested for earlier which are currently in South Africa and arrangements are being made to have them brought into the country,” the commission's spokesman Mathias Kamanga said in a statement.

    Mr Malanji has been released on police bond, according to the local Diamond TV.

    He served in the cabinet of former President Edgar Lungu, who lost the presidential election in August 2021.

    Zambia’s new government is pursuing an anti-corruption drive after winning elections last year. It is yet to secure any major convictions.

  10. Zambian ex-justice minister charged with corruption

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Zambia has charged and arrested the country’s former justice minister for allegedly being in possession of property reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crime.

    Given Lubinda appeared for questioning on Monday at the ACC offices in the capital, Lusaka, where he was formally arrested before being released on bail.

    His lawyer, Jonas Zimba, confirmed Mr Lubinda had been charged for allegedly owning a house in Lusaka’s upmarket Kingsland City and having four different bank accounts.

    On Tuesday, Mr Lubinda denied the charges at a press briefing, labelling his interrogation as hypocritical.

    He also downplayed events, saying there was nothing new in the allegations as he had previously been summoned to answer similar charges.

    He said he was happy the charges were proceeding to court so that he could prove his innocence.

    Though Zambia’s new government is pursuing an anti-corruption drive after winning elections last year, it is yet to secure any major convictions.

  11. Zambia's power firm halts plan to buy luxury cars

    Land Cruiser by Toyota
    Image caption: The vehicles were reportedly intended for Zesco's newly appointed board of directors

    Zambia's state-run power firm Zesco has suspended plans to buy luxury cars following outrage over their cost.

    Zesco had invited bids to supply 25 vehicles, most of them Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs.

    A local paper estimates that could have cost the cash-strapped power company about $1.7m (£1.2m).

    In a post on Facebook page, Zesco said the tender had been cancelled without giving reasons.

    The Lusaka Times website reports that the cars were meant for the company's newly appointed board of directors who are entitled to a vehicle of their choice.

  12. Zambezi

    Video content

    Video caption: The story of the people and wildlife of the Zambezi, Africa’s wildest river.

    From elephants and wildebeest to Victoria Falls, the largest curtain of water on earth. This is the story of the Zambezi, Africa’s wildest river.

  13. Former Zambian President Banda dies at 85

    Rupiah Banda is pictured as he is sworn in as Zambia's fourth president in Lusaka on November 2, 2008
    Image caption: Rupiah Banda became Zambia's fourth president in 2008

    Rupiah Banda, who was Zambia's president from 2008 to 2011, has died at the age of 85 after suffering from colon cancer.

    "His life of service to our country, and to our continent, represents the highest form of patriotism," President Hakainde Hichilema said.

    Mr Banda, a former diplomat, was serving as vice-president when, in 2008, President Levy Mwanawasa suffered a stroke and later died. He then took office, becoming the country's fourth president, and won the subsequent election.

    But he stepped down in 2011 after losing that year's poll to Michael Sata. Mr Banda was widely praised at the time for accepting defeat, rather than challenging the result.

    His time in office was dogged by corruption allegations and in 2013 he was arrested after being accused of stealing millions of dollars.

    He denied the accusations, describing them as being part of a witch hunt, and was never convicted.

  14. Elections

    Video content

    Video caption: Why do internet shut downs happen during elections and what is the impact on democracy?

    Why do internet shut downs often happen during elections and what is the impact on democracy?

  15. Seized cash to fund bursaries in Zambia

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    Zambia’s anti-corruption body has handed to the state about $4m (£3m) that it recovered from suspected proceeds of crime.

    The money will now be given to the Ministry of Education to help more than 2,000 students in need of bursaries, the Minister of Finance Situmbeko Musokotwane has said.

    The announcement was made at an event attended by Mr Musokotwane, Education Minister Douglas Syakalima and officials from the Anti-Corruption Commission.

    Money was found last year in a house belonging to journalist Margaret Musonda, also known as Faith Musonda, and was subsequently forfeited to the state as part of a deal for her not to be prosecuted.

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    Ms Musonda also lost her house in which the money was found.

  16. Zambian police block doctors demanding jobs

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    Police in Zambia have blocked a protest by doctors who want to be employed by the government.

    Police in riot gear stopped the medics from marching up to State House in Lusaka, where the doctors wanted an audience with President Hakainde Hichilema.

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    One of the marching doctors, Wallace Ndumba, told privately-owned Diamond television that medics will no longer offer free service as volunteers because of unfulfilled promises to give them paid employment.

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    More 800 doctors are unemployed in the country and they are hoping to be employed in the forthcoming recruitment round of health personnel.

    Recently, Zambia's Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo said the recruitment of 11,200 medics will begin in March.

  17. Zambian artist behind Pope's gift says it is humbling

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    Zambia's President Hakainde Hichilema presents an art gift to the Pope

    Zambian sculptor and art teacher Sydney Siansangu says it is humbling that his art pieces have made it to the Vatican.

    Mr Siansangu is making headlines in Zambia after two of his sculptures were given to Pope Francis at the Vatican as presents by President Hakainde Hichilema last week.

    "First and foremost, I am humbled and greatly appreciative especially for the publicity. It's a normal feeling because my works are in many high-profile places," he told the BBC.

    The pieces are part of his latest serious dubbed "Our Legacy".

    "For example, my name may have already been known probably with The Vatican because of some commissioned work at the headquarters of all Jesuits in Africa and Madagascar. Others include late Magufuli [Tanzania's former president], President of Botswana, King of Morocco, King of United Arab Emirates. So the feeling is normal except that this has wide publicity," he said.

    One of the pieces presented to the Pope was made from various tree species, copper wire and grey marble.

    Sydney Siansangu's finished piece.
    Image caption: Sydney Siansangu's finished piece

    The sculpture has a traditional musical horn, an abstracted musical drum, shakers and rattles. The fusion of the musical instruments nods to Zambian cultural rites, and produces a harmonious and melodious sound.

    "[The] musical horn can be played to gather people for a specific meeting and so is a drum. In most cases, shakers and rattles are played as accompanying instruments to provide some simple yet sharp sounds.

    "Copper wire as usual in my works is a symbol of identity that also plays a key role to enhance aesthetics," he added.

    Sydney Siansangu at work on the piece.
    Image caption: Sydney Siansangu at work on the piece
  18. Zambian newspaper's liquidation declared illegal

    Kennedy Gondwe

    BBC News, Lusaka

    A man passes the office of the now-closed independent newspaper "The Post" on August 9, 2016 in Lusaka.
    Image caption: The Post was critical of Edgar Lungu and his government when he was president

    The Supreme Court in Zambia has declared the liquidation of the influential privately owned newspaper, The Post, illegal.

    In a move that was widely viewed to have been political, the newspaper was liquidated in 2016 for alleged failure to pay its debts and taxes - something the publication always disputed.

    The Patriotic Front (PF) was in power at the time.

    In a landmark ruling on Thursday in Lusaka, the Supreme Court labelled the liquidation process a “faux”.

    Chief Justice Mumba Malila, who headed the panel of judges, ordered the process to be re-started in compliance with the law.

    The Supreme Court also ordered the newspaper’s liquidator Lewis Mosho to be part of to the new proceedings and be made to account, even though he may have finished selling the assets of the defunct publication.

    “We note that much time has passed since the purported liquidation. We do not believe, however, that such passage of the time has sanitised the wrongful manner in which the liquidation was conducted,” the stinging 55-page judgement said.

    “For the avoidance of doubt, we hold that the actions of the liquidator - prior to and post the purported liquidation of the Post Newspaper - are of no legal effect whatsoever," it added.

    The newspaper was critical of the PF and then-President Edgar Lungu, who lost power to opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in elections last year.

    Many Zambians on social media have celebrated the judgement.

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