Open letter to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu

August 5, 2021
Open letter to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu – keep the internet open and secure
throughout the upcoming elections and thereafter.
The President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. President Edgar Chagwa Lungu
CC: H.E.Inonge Wina, Vice President; Mulenga Chisenga, Acting Director General,

Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA); Mishek Lungu, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Communication and Transport; Lukando Kalaluka, Attorney General of Zambia; Justice Esau Chulu, Chairperson of Electoral Commission of Zambia; The Director General – Zambia Security Intelligence
Services; Kakoma Kanganja, Inspector General of Police; Josephine Mapoma, Director General Independent Broadcasting Authority; Mudford Z. Mwandega, Chairperson, Zambia Human Rights
Commission; Bart Hofker, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Zambia; Apoorva Mehrotra, CEO & MD, Airtel
Zambia PLC; Sydney Mupeta – CEO – Zamtel.

Nations across Africa, and the world, are intentionally shutting down the internet when people need it the most — during elections and important national events. This election, we urge the Republic of Zambia to #KeepItOn.
We, the undersigned organizations and members of the #KeepItOn coalition — a network that unites over 240 organizations from 105 countries that work to end internet shutdowns1 globally — write to urgently appeal to you, the President, to ensure that the internet, social media platforms, and all other communication channels remain open, secure, and accessible throughout the election period and thereafter, scheduled for August 12, in the Republic of Zambia.
There have been unconfirmed reports of poor network connectivity to the internet in the past few months in Zambia, coupled with reports of internet disruptions in 2016 and 2020. As a result, Zambia remains on the #KeepItOn Coalition’s radar, and the world is watching to ensure that the rights of the people are upheld during the upcoming elections and at all times.
The internet and social media platforms play a critical role in enhancing participatory governance in a democratic society. They provide space for communicating, public debate, seeking information on election processes and candidates, reporting and documenting events and outcomes, and holding governments accountable for their actions — including their promises to the people. Journalists, 1 An internet shutdown is defined as an intentional disruption of internet or electronic communications,
rendering them inaccessible or effectively unusable, for a specific population or within a location, often to exert control over the flow of information. See more at:
human rights defenders, election observers, civil society actors, and other relevant stakeholders count on the internet to monitor and report on elections, facilitating transparency, inclusiveness, and openness in the process.
Zambia’s ’s history of shutdowns
Following the 2016 general elections, local media outlets reported at least two days of internet shutdowns and slowdowns in parts of Zambia, with mobile services being most affected. Notably, the government hit areas that were opposition strongholds. In 2020, Freedom House reported another two-day shutdown. Government officials said the shutdown was due to heavy rains. However, officials
of the United Party for National Development (UPND) alleged the government was responsible for the restriction.There have also been instances of targeted website blockings of media outlets operating in the country.
The recent introduction of laws including the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act, 2021, the Data Protection Act, 2021, and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, 2021 in the lead up to the election is alarming as these laws contain vague provisions that could provide an avenue for the government to violate the fundamental rights of the people. For instance, Section 14 (2) of the Cybersecurity and Cyber Crimes Act, 2021 states that any “person who fails to take any measure or comply with any requirement directed by the Minister (under his sole discretion) under Section 14 (1)
commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding one hundred penalty units or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or both.”
We are concerned that such provisions provide authorities and government officials a license to abuse their powers to infringe on people’s fundamental rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
Internet shutdowns harm human rights, disrupt emergency services, and cripple economies Research shows that internet shutdowns and violence go hand in hand. Shutting down the internet
during a deadly pandemic would add fuel to the fire.Internet shutdowns violate fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and opinion, access to information, press freedom, and freedom
of peaceful assembly. By disrupting the free flow of information, shutdowns exacerbate existing tensions, and create space to conceal potential violence and human rights violations perpetrated by both state and non-state actors.
Internet shutdowns cut off access to vital, timely, and life-saving information, as well as to emergency services, plunging whole communities into fear and confusion. Internet shutdowns could spur a sense
of insecurity, particularly among more vulnerable groups, and may instigate violence, and facilitate the spread of both misinformation and disinformation.
Internet shutdowns contravene international human rights laws and standards
The Government of Zambia has ratified regional and international frameworks such as the legally binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which provide for the protection and promotion of the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, assembly, and access to information, both offline and online.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Resolution from 2016 recognizes the “importance of the internet in advancing human and people’s rights in Africa, particularly the right to freedom of information and expression.” The ACHPR/Res. 362 (LIX) 2016 also condemns the “emerging
practice of State Parties interrupting or limiting access to telecommunication services such as the internet, social media, and messaging services.” Additionally, U.N. experts and high-level officials —including the U.N. Secretary-General — formally affirm that, “blanket Internet shutdowns and generic blocking and filtering of services are considered by United Nations human rights mechanisms to be in violation of international human rights law.”

Telecom companies must respect human rights Telecom companies and businesses have a responsibility under the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business
and Human Rights and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises to respect human rights,
prevent or mitigate potential harms, and provide remedy for harms they cause or contribute to. It
outlines, “states should take additional steps to protect against human rights abuses by business
enterprises that are owned or controlled by the State.”
Furthermore, MTN, Airtel and Zamtel, which are the main telecom and internet service providers
operating in Zambia, have a responsibility to uphold and respect human rights by providing quality,
open, and secure access to the internet and digital communication tools throughout the elections
and beyond. Internet shutdowns — whether in Zambia or other countries — must never be allowed to
become the new normal, and we encourage Zambian enterprises to integrate these practices for
responding to censorship and network disruptions.
As organizations that believe in the power of the internet as an enabler of all other human rights, we
are confident that access to the internet, social media, news websites and mobile money platforms
during the elections in Zambia has the potential to foster transparency and inclusivity in the
upcoming elections, and ensure active citizen and other stakeholder participation.
We respectfully request that you use the important positions of your offices to:
● Ensure full internet access nationwide and refrain from arbitrarily blocking access to
social media platforms such as Twitter, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Facebook, and
websites of media outlets throughout the election period and thereafter;
● Publicly assure the people of Zambia that the internet and all other digital
communication platforms, will remain open, accessible, inclusive, and secure
across Zambia throughout the election and thereafter;
● Order all internet service providers in Zambia to provide everyone with high-quality,
secure, inclusive, and unrestricted internet access throughout the election period
and thereafter; and
● Order all internet service providers, to inform internet users of any potential disruptions, and
to take all reasonable steps to fix any identified disruptions likely to impact the quality of
service they receive.
Kindly let us know in what ways we can assist.
Access Now
Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID)
African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX)
Africa Interactive Media
Bloggers of Zambia
Change Tanzania movement
Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)
Common Cause Zambia
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Digital Rights Kashmir
Governance Elections Advocacy Research (GEARS) Initiative
Global Voices
Kijiji Yeetu, Kenya
Last Mile4D
International Press Centre ( IPC)
Internet Sans frontières
Iraqi Network for Social Media – INSMnetwork
Media Diversity Institute – Armenia
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Zimbabwe)
Namibia Media Trust (NMT)
National Women’s Lobby
OpenNet Africa
Operation Young Vote (OYV)
Organization of the Justice Campaign
Paradigm Initiative (PIN)
PEN America
Ranking Digital Rights
Sassoufit Collective
Software Freedom Law Centre, India (
Tonse Alliance Zambia
Unwanted Witness Uganda
VE sin Filtro
Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda
Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET)
Women ICT Advocacy Group (WIAG)
Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), Nigeria.
Zaina Foundation
Zambian Bloggers Network




Common Cause Zambia today joins the GBV Prevention Network members, human rights activists, health providers and community members from Addis Ababa to Cape Town who will bring awareness and action to the intersection between violence against women (VAW) and health from November 25 – December 10 as part of this year’s Regional 16

Days of Activism against Violence against Women Campaign.

VAW is an epidemic – why? Because one in three women globally will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. There is arguably no other health problem as pervasively affecting women today. This rate is even higher in sub-Saharan Africa with nearly 1 in 2 African women experiencing violence. The health consequences of this violence are significant; women who have experienced violence are up to three times more likely to be infected with HIV than those who have not .The effects of violence do not only have an impact on the health of the individual and the family but also the health

of economies.

In Uganda the cost of domestic violence was estimated at $2.5 million in 2007.  In South Africa, this figure is as staggeringly high as 40 billion Rand, or $3.6 billion in 2012/2013

Violence against women is often accepted, ignored or even expected — this is an injustice. Silence around violence further perpetuates it.

The 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women is an annual global event that calls for collective action worldwide to prevent this widespread and universal epidemic. It spans significant dates including the International Day for the Elimination of Violence

against Women (November 25th), World AIDS Day (December 1st) and Human Rights Day (December10th). These dates were selected to symbolically link violence against women to escalating HIV infection rates and human rights abuses.

“There is still a long way to go. We need dedicated financing for women and HIV.” – Dr. Nduku Kilonzo,Director, National AIDS Control Council, Kenya“The health of women, the health of families and communities require an end to violence against women; we call on policymakers to take action now” Tina Musuya, Executive Director, Center For Domestic Violence Prevention, Uganda. “we need a constitution that prevents violence against women” Sara Longwe, Women Rights Activist, Zambia.

Over the 16-day period, hundreds of organizations across Africa who are members of the GBV Prevention Network will engage their communities under the regional theme “The Silent Epidemic: Violence against Women. Is Your Voice Being Heard?”

The theme highlights the dangerous relationship between violence against women and negative mental and physical health outcomes, which affect women as well as their families and communities.

The Regional 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women Campaign seeks to influence policy makers and health workers to move to action to help achieve the goal of all women living healthy lives that are free from violence.

During this campaign, activists will lobby policy makers and other leaders to raise their voices for the implementation of a multi-sector approach to preventing and responding to violence against women and girls. All members of the GBV Prevention Network call on

leaders to:

1. Show leadership. Recognize violence against women and girls as an important health and development barrier and allocate the sufficient resources to prevent and respond to violence.

2. Create Equality. Change national and local level laws, policies and institutions that sustain inequality between women and men.

3. Change Norms. Invest in local violence prevention programming, to promote gender equitable social norms, non-violence behaviors, and effective non-stigmatizing responses for violence survivors

4. Challenge Sectors. Strengthen the role of sectors (health, security, education, justice), including integrating training, allocating budgets, creating policies and implementing systems to identifyand support survivors, as part of a co-ordinated multi-sectoral response.

5. Invest in research and programming. Support research and programming organizations to learn how best to prevent and respond to VAWG

During 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women, intense activity and conversation will create a wave of movement and positive change across the region. When individuals raise their voices in unison, we can be more clearly heard thus breaking the silence and the injustice that is violence against women. How will your voice be heard?.

Enhancing Transparency & Accountability at Community Level

Common Cause Zambia is pleased to announce the upcoming workshops on ‘Enhancing Transparency and Accountability at community Level’ which will take place in Kitwe and Ndola starting on 14 – 18th October, 2013.

Increased accountability and Transparency in CDF Management Project Kicks Off

Common Cause Zambia in Partnership with Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), are conducting a Joint workshop formulating  and Developing Manuals and IEC materials for the “Enhancing Citizen Participation in Resource Tracking at Community level in Zambia Project”. The project which is being undertaken by three organisations PANOS, Foundation for Democratic Process and Common Cause is supported by HIVOS

What Parliament Thinks About CDF

 Parliamentary Debates – Thursday, March 22, 2012


247. Mr Muteteka (Chisamba) asked the Minister of Local Government and Housing what progress the Government had made on the construction of ring and township roads as part of the Lusaka City Master Plan.