Popular Zambian musician and activist Fumba Chama has fled the country after receiving death threats over his song, Koswe Mumpoto (Rat in the Pot), which has been interpreted as being critical of President Edgar Lungu and his ministers, rights group Amnesty International has said.
“The brazen determination by some in Zambia to silence dissenting views can only spell doom for the culture of robust engagement that the country has been known for,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty’s deputy director for southern Africa.
Chama, known to his fans as Pilato, sings that the “ruling elite are behaving like rats that steal food and eat, including things that they do not need,” according to Amnesty.
He fled Zambia on 5 January after receiving a video message in December recorded by cadres of the governing Patriotic Front (PF), who threatened to beat him for releasing the song, which has been a huge hit since it came out in December, Amnesty added.
The chairperson of the PF for Central Province had ordered Chama to stop singing the song on 11 December. Radio and TV stations were also ordered to stop playing it by the authorities, Amnesty said.
Chama is a very big name in Zambia, and a controversial social commentator through his music, which is a fusion of rap and hop, the BBC’s Kennedy Gondwe in the capital, Lusaka, reports.
Chama’s whereabouts are unclear.