In a letter dated January 4, 2018, Chanda says proponents of fake news aim at fostering lawlessness on a mass scale and must be brought to book immediately.
He says he has been a victim of forged statements attributed to his office that were totally false and misleading thereby causing distress and panic among individuals and businesses.
Chanda’s statement could be the beginning of a vicious crackdown on online outlets and citizens seen critical to the government.
Yesterday, a medical doctor in Mongu, Western Province was jailed for three years for defamation of President Edgar Lungu and creating fake social media accounts.
BELOW IS AMOS CHANDA’S STATEMENT
4th January 2018
Zambia Police Service
RE:FORGERY AND UTTERING OF STATE HOUSE STATEMENTS
Between the period towards the 2016 General Elections and now, a number of false statements have been generated and issued in the name of State House, particularly under my name (AMOS CHANDA) under the designation of SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT, PRESS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS, STATE HOUSE.
Despite the structural and professional deficiencies inherent in these forgeries, several individuals and businesses are nevertheless getting distressed and thrown into panic believing these announcements are official bulletins from the State House Press Office. It is therefore an urgent imperative that a thorough investigation is carried out and decisive action taken to forestall this irresponsible and criminal behaviour which has a real danger to disrupt public order.
You may wish to note, Inspector-General, that this phenomenon notoriously known as “fake news” is a global concern. This cyber-bullying tactic by devious individuals is aimed at fostering lawlessness on a mass scale. That is why this problem has gotten the attention of many governments who are taking steps to control it. In France for instance, stringent laws have been announced by the President this week to crackdown on this criminality.
The digital media space offers great promise as a democratic platform with unlimited possibility. Conversely, this platform poses great risk not just to human security and protection of public and private property, but also threatens social cohesion by promoting hate speech and other illiberal values using the false comfort of the amonimity of the cyber space. Therein lies the existential threat against various facets of life because cyber bullying alters power relations in favour of the invisible enemy with unlimited power against a hapless target without any hope of redress at a personal level.
State institutions such as yours are therefore required to act decisively to forestall or eliminate all together, this rampaging criminal behavior. The phenomenon of fake news and cyber bullying must be taken seriously by all stakeholders because in other jurisdictions these have led to such unfortunate incidents as suicide among vulnerable targets especially young people and women.
State House believes legislation exists for police and ZICTA to be able to control this hideous crime.
Further to this letter, I have formally given a statement to the criminal investigations unit from your office
SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
(PRESS & PUBLIC RELATIONS)
c.c.The Director General