Sunday evening and my dad asks me during their weekly call if I’ve heard anything about the Swedish journalists? I’m blank. He explains that two Swedish journalists from an investigative tv-show aired on the Swedish national broadcaster (SVT) have been arrested in Zambia. It takes another couple of days for it to appear in the local paper, by then they have been released on bail. Perhaps it just wouldn’t have looked good had the news come out just in time for Press freedom day… They had come out to dig deeper in the ZNFU (Zambia National farmers union) scandal (read more here). You might ask why Sweden cares? Well, they send a lot of aid money directly to the organisation, money that now seem to have been going to the wrong hands. The journalists where arrested outside the gate of the main suspect, the head of ZNFU, Ndambo Ndambo. According to the newspaper (published 11th May) they had gone out to his property and started filming, and were picked up for criminal trespass, but in today’s newspaper one of the journalists, Djiobaridis, says Ndambo Ndambo had agreed to be interviewed prior to their arrival to Zambia. Why then did they get arrested? Did they get set up? She goes on to say:
“So I was actually in Zambia to investigate what happened to the Swedish taxpayers’ money that we want poor people to have, to help them to have a better life and I mean, that man [Ndambo] is actually partly paid by Swedish funding and he uses that money, my money to stop my reporting? It is horrible!”
The two journalists along with their Zambian colleague spent two nights in a Zambian holding cell. It was according to Djiobaridis the worst two days in her life. Anyone who’ve entered a cell knows what she’s talking about. Their ordeal ended with a ‘nolle prosequi’ and they left the country on the next available flight with the words that the investigations will carry on from Sweden. Said Djiobaridis:
“It was my first time in Zambia so unfortunately it wasn’t the best experience, but I must also say that we met a lot of really nice Zambian people and my overall impression of Zambia is that the Zambian people are kind and nice but you have a terrible problem with corruption.”
I’m afraid she is spot on!