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.e. 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 homosexuality.
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.