Zambia Arrests 2 Musicians for Criticizing Govt

Concerns over Zambia’s crackdown on human rights have spiked in recent days following the arrest and jailing of a popular singer whose hit song strongly criticized the corruption and poor governance of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party.

The 29-year-old Chama Fimba, who performs under the stagename ‘PilAto,’ was placed under arrest on Saturday May 11 on unclear charges along with his bandmate ‘Petersen’ (Mundia Mukubesa), but according to a report by website Zambian Watchdog, the singer is being questioned over the lyrical content of his song ‘Bufi’ (‘Lies’).  Mr Fimba is currently being held indefinitely at Lusaka Central Police Station pending the application of charges.

The lyrics of the song ‘Bufi,’ which is the Bemba word for ‘lies,’ lists a number of broken promises of the PF, including cheap fuel, construction of roads, and job opportunities for young people.  The song is featured in a video by the artists depicting the long lines awaiting fuel, poor people sleeping in the streets, and life in the compounds.

Boza, bufi, ulabeja, wenye … You were lying ‘Tata’ (old man). You promised cheap fuel; you said you will construct roads but you were lying as people are still sleeping in tunnels,” the song lyrics state.

In recent months, the PF government’s crackdown on opposition leaders and treatment of sexual minorities has attracted criticism from Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department.

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