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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 15:58 GMT
Zambian court blocks deportation
President Levy Mwanawasa
Insulting President Mwanawasa means insulting the Zambia people
A Zambian court has ordered the authorities not to deport a British writer until his appeal has been heard, his lawyer says.

Roy Clarke last week wrote a satirical column in which he compared President Levy Mwanawasa to a "foolish elephant" and two ministers to "baboons".

The home affairs minister on Monday gave him 24 hours to leave the country.

Lawyer Patrick Matibini told the BBC: "In a democracy, we have to allow for a measure of free speech and criticism."

Home Affairs Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha said Mr Clarke had insulted all Zambians when he had insulted the president, but he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that they would abide by the court's decision.

"Freedom of press does not mean the freedom to insult," he said.

We will fish him out even if he is hiding in a spider hole and he will be deported
Peter Mumba
Home affairs permanent secretary

Mr Clarke, who is married to a Zambian women's rights activist and has permanent residency, said he was amazed when he read in a newspaper of the decision and had gone into hiding from the police until the issue was resolved through the courts.

"As a journalist I look to my newspaper to protect me," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Article reprinted

The article, published in The Post newspaper, was based on George Orwell's Animal Farm.

He compared Zambia's leaders to animals after Mr Mwanawasa had visited a game park.

Fred Mmembe, the publisher of The Post, which has had several run-ins with the government, said he would take responsibility for the article.

On Tuesday, The Post reprinted the article under Mr Mmembe's by-line.

"I am responsible and totally answerable for Roy's column. It's me who published it, not Roy. Come for me and deport me," Mr Mmembe said.

Country profile: Zambia
29 Nov 02  |  Country profiles


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