Zambia. At the beginning of the year, opposition leader
Hakainde Hichilema was arrested from the country's third
largest party, the United National Development Party (UPND).
Hichilema was indicted for defamation against President
Michael Sata. According to the human rights organization
Amnesty International, the country's critics of the regime
have been making it increasingly difficult since Sata came
to power in 2011. It is not uncommon for oppositionists to
be arrested or subjected to harassment by the Zambian police
or by loyalists.
In February, the government revoked the state of the
Chinese company that owns the Collum Coal Mine coal mine in
Sinazongwe province in the south. According to
Countryaah, the reason was that the
mining company had violated safety and environmental laws
and failed to pay taxes for the business. The conditions at
the Collum mine have for a long time shown great
deficiencies, which was noticed already in 2012 when
protests against low wages went so far that one of the
mining company's executives was killed.
In March, former President Rupiah Banda was arrested
after Parliament deprived him of his legal immunity. Banda
was accused of embezzling large sums of money during his
time in power.
In the spring, several people were also arrested because
of their sexual orientation in Zambia, where homosexuality
is prohibited by law. In May, a gay couple was accused of
engaging in "same-sex activities," which can result in up to
14 years in prison. Following appeals from i.a. Amnesty
International released the men later. Also in April, a
well-known human rights activist was arrested because of a
statement on radio that the country should decriminalize
Zambia is one of the countries in Africa where the
economy has developed most in recent years. In 2012,
economic growth was a full 6%. But far from all Zambians,
things have gotten better and still around 60% of the
country's population is estimated to live on less than $
1.25 a day, which is the World Bank's definition of poverty.
The Zambian economy is highly dependent on the mining
industry and the copper price on the world market. But
despite the fact that copper revenue today accounts for
about 85% of the country's total export revenue, these
income will not benefit the residents or the state. On the
contrary, the mines' contribution to the state is negative
because the companies only pay very low or no tax at all,
while receiving large government subsidies.
In November, more than 80 people were accused of wanting
to make the province of Barotseland in western Zambia their
own state. The independence movement there has intensified
in recent years and its leaders believe that the government
ignores Baroteland's right to self-government, which was
agreed in conjunction with Zambia's independence from
Britain in 1964.