Pressure from international bodies and co-operating partners has forced President Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front to temporarily unblock access to critical websites, Zambia Reports and the Zambian Watchdog, nearly a year after Chinese and Russian equipment was procured to muzzle freedom of expression.
The two websites were blocked from access from inside Zambia between June and July 2013 with either proxy websites an option for locals.
An innovation to filter articles published on both Zambia Reports and the Zambia Watchdog rendered the blocking attempt almost irrelevant.
However, the United States raised serious concern with the Zambian government for blocking the two websites and has been a topical issue in closed door meetings between officials of the two country.
The 2013 US Human Rights report, a respected analysis of country to country stability and democratic governance, condemned President Sata and his government for shutting the two websites.
“The warning from our international partners has been very strong so the authorities are trying to observe what will happen by unlocking the websites,” the source said.
It is, however, not guaranteed the two websites will remain unblocked a week after access resumed as normal for the first time since June last year.
“It’s a question of trying to play it safe. They can block you again,” a source added.
Vice-President Guy Scott had announced last year that the websites had been blocked by a “well-wisher” for allegedly promoting hate speech.