Pilato flees the country amid fresh crackdown on dissent

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Pilato

Amnesty International has asked the Zambian government to immediately take steps to guarantee right to freedom of expression for artists, after a crackdown on dissent forced satirical musician Pilato to flee the country.

Pilato reportedly fled Zambia on January 5 after receiving threats over his hit song Koswe Mumpoto (rat in the pot), which has been interpreted as criticising President Edgar Lungu and his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) ministers.

In Koswe Mumpoto, the artiste whose real name is Chama Fumba, sings that the ruling elite are behaving like rats that steal food and eat, including things that they do not need.

“The brazen determination by some in Zambia to silence dissenting views can only spell doom for the culture of robust engagement that the country has been known for,” said Amnesty International Deputy Director for Southern Africa Muleya Mwananyanda.

“The right to freedom of expression must be allowed to thrive.”

Pilato decided to leave after receiving a video message in December recorded by cadres of the ruling PF who threatened to beat him for releasing the song, which has been a huge hit since it came out in December. The chairperson of the party for Central Province had ordered Pilato to stop singing the song on 11 December. Radio and TV stations were also ordered to stop playing it by the authorities.

The chairperson of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) for Central Province had ordered Pilato to stop singing the song on 11 December. Radio and TV stations were also ordered to stop playing it by the authorities.

Police also denied Pilato permits to perform at several planned concerts in December. In places where he was allowed to sing, police imposed conditions, including orders not to play any of his controversial songs.

In another illustration of the increasingly oppressive atmosphere in Zambia, the Magistrates’ Court in Mongu sentenced a medical doctor, Kwalela Kafunya, to seven years in prison under oppressive colonial-era legislation for creating a fake Facebook account lampooning President Lungu. Kafunya was accused of posting disturbing remarks and insults, and digitally altering the president’s image.

“It is worrying that Zambian authorities are now also going after people who are using social media networks such as Facebook to express themselves,” said Mwananyanda.

“This harassment and crackdown on dissent must stop immediately.”

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4 Responses to Pilato flees the country amid fresh crackdown on dissent

  1. freedom of expression that borders on promoting hate should not be encouraged .
    Some people were abusing social media .
    A song which provokes a large group of society is just not acceptable as it does not promote peace but hate and devision.
    Pilato ‘ s song is not heroic but rather very devicive and provocative to many people .
    Certain religions can not accept even a catoon that they deem is provocative to its followers .
    Musicians should not compose music that promote hate in the name of freedom of expression .
    Why run away if his song is in good taste ?
    When you go to war you do not expect ice cream and cakes on the battle field.
    Pilato’s song should serve as an example to musicians not to abuse freedom of expression with hate music.

    Michelo
    January 24, 2018 at 12:44 am
    Reply

  2. Pilato or I don”t how u call yourself, You are wrong and you are painting a very bad picture to zambian music industries. You don’t just wake up and start insulting your leaders. If you are used to insult your parents were u are coming from. Please don’t think everyone is like that.Zambia is a very big country and God has blessed us with good leaders in diffrent organisations, Please let us give them all the respect they derseve. If you want to be a good zambian citizen please be the way you are. If you are rich please enjoy your wealth.no one will follow u no say anything to u.

    PRIVATISATION
    January 24, 2018 at 10:05 am
    Reply

  3. Ethically this man and his song (KOSWE MUMPOTO) are wrong variables as far as Zambian music and culture are concerned, no wonder he has fled not that his life is under threat but the guilty ones are always afraid. Like my colleagues have alluded to above, artists must help in their music to unify and not to divide the nation. The political atmosphere needs to be defused at the moment with music that fosters love and unit and not music of hate perpetrated by this character. For me we are better off as a nation without this pilato as far as national unity is concerned. Let him go and never come back KOSWE, he doesn’t add any value to this nation. You reap what you sow says the Bible

    saimbwende saimbwende
    January 24, 2018 at 12:40 pm
    Reply

  4. I equally denounce the thinking of so called Pilato. It is totally wrong to use abusive statements towards the Republican President His Excellence, Mr. Edger Lungu and any other patriotic human being globally.

    Pilato should be apprehended by the police and charged with all offenses patterning to his senseless and abusive songs and any other persons who would be offenders of the public.

    I am proposing to the government of the Republic of Zambia, under the good leadership and governance of President Edger Lungu, to formulate an Authority that will be regulating artists in any category, so that sanitation in regards to music can prevail in our mother Zambia.
    Regards,
    Shadreck Nyirenda

    Shadreck Nyirenda
    January 24, 2018 at 3:15 pm
    Reply

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