Dr. Fred M’membe
Party: Socialist Party (SP)
Age: 62 Years
Born 11th March 1959 in Mongu Barotseland, Dr. Fred M’membe is the current Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party which he founded.
He is widely known as a journalist for his editorship of now defunct Post Newspapers. He has received numerous international awards for his reporting. In 2000, the International Press Institute named him one of its World Press Freedom Heroes.
M’membe went to St John’s Secondary School, where he did his junior secondary, and later went to St Francis in Malole where he completed his senior secondary.
He studied accounting at Copperbelt University. He worked for a time as an accountant before moving into journalism in November 1990. He is also a qualified member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and has a Master in Economic Policy and Planning from the University of Zambia. He also holds a Law Degree from the University of Zambia and is an advocate of the High Court and Supreme Court of Zambia.
The formation of his defunct Post Newspapers happened after he met Mike Hall, a Malawi-born journalist who covered Southern Africa for the BBC and UK and US newspapers.At the time, Zambia had only two newspapers, both of them controlled by the government of Kenneth Kaunda, and the pair felt that an independent news source was long overdue. With Hall’s help,M’membe went on to found Post Newspapers Limited in 1991, as well as a printing company, Independent Printers Limited, which would be responsible for printing The Zambia Post, Post Newspapers’ flagship publication.The pair modelled the paper’s design on South Africa’s liberal Weekly Mail and Lisbon,Portugal’s daily Público. Despite a modest circulation of 40,000 and Zambia’s “anemic” economy, the paper quickly proved a financial success.
M’MEMBE IN CHILUBA ERA
As the only Independent newspaper in Zambia,The Post frequently came into conflict with the government. In the first ten years of its existence alone, it was the target of more than fifty criminal and civil suits.Though the paper supported Frederick Chiluba’s Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) in the1991 election that ousted Kenneth Kaunda and won Chiluba the presidency, M’membe soon became critical of what he perceived as Chiluba’s failure to live up to his campaign promises
Ahead of the 1996 general election, Chiluba’s government increased its efforts to restrict independent media.On 5 February 1996, The Post reported the MMD’s plans to hold a referendum on constitutional changes.Chiluba’s government banned the edition and charged M’membe, managing editor Bright Mwape, and special projects editor Masautso Phiri with possession of a banned publication and state secrets, causing the three to go into hiding for several weeks to avoid arrest.
M’membe and Mwape surrendered to authorities in March and were sentenced to 24 days in a maximum security prison on charges of contempt of Parliament.The charges were protested by the Committee to Protect Journalists, which launched a letter-writing campaign to secure thepair’s release.
In 1999, M’membe and ten members of his staff were charged with espionage following a Post article that stated that Zambia was unprepared to withstand a possible military attack from Angola.
The newspaper’s offices were also surrounded by police to prevent further publishing. M’membe’s co-defendants were acquitted by the Lusaka High Court on 18 August 2000, though the judge ruled that M’membe himself still had to answer the case.
He was acquitted in December of the same year.In August 2001, M’membe was arrested again following an article in which he accused Chiluba of embezzlement. The article began, “It’s very difficult to avoid calling President Frederick Chiluba a thief,because he is a thief. How else can one describe a person who steals?”
M’membe was charged with defaming the president, charges The New York Times described as “efforts to muzzle the press” ahead of impending elections.
Though Chiluba was barred by the Constitution of Zambia from seeking a third term, he was succeeded by his former vice-president and fellow MMD member Levy Mwanawasa. M’membe soon found himself in conflict with Mwanawasa as he had been with Chiluba, and was arrested on 12 February 2002 on defamation charges following publication of an article in which he quoted opposition lawmaker Dipak Patel as calling Mwanawasa a “cabbage,” an apparent reference to Mwanawasa’s condition following a serious traffic accident that left him with slurred speech. M’membe stated that he believed the charges to be “politically motivated”,and that Patel (who was also issued a summons) was their primary target.During a June 2009 hospital strike, Post News Editor Chansa Kabwela forwarded to Vice-President George Kunda pictures that had been given to the newspaper of a woman giving birth in the street, which she felt were important to share but too graphic to publish. The following month, she was arrested on a charge of”distributing obscene materials in order to corrupt the morals of society”.The charges against her were dismissed by a judge in November 2009, but after M’membe published an op-ed piece from a Zambian lawyer living abroad in Kabwela’s support, he was charged with contempt of court. He was convicted in June 2010 and sentenced to four months’ hard labour.
In July 2011, M’membe again faced a charge of contempt of court for defying a ban not to print “libelous”articles about presidential candidate (later president) Rupiah Banda.
On 1 November 2016, the Post newspaper was placed under provisional liquidation after five former employees applied to court to have the company placed on liquidation in order to recover their terminal benefits. The Zambia Revenue Authority in June 2016 closed the Post.
M’membe was the third recipient of the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s Press Freedom Award in 1995.MISA described him as “the most persecuted journalist in his country and the rest of the region.” Previous awardees include Onesimo Makani Kabweza and Basildon Peta.In 1995, M’membe won the International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists,]”an annual recognition of courageous journalism”.In 2000, he was selected by the International Press Institute as one of 50 “World Press Freedom Heroes” of the organisation’s fifty years of existence.
M’MEMBE THE SOCIALIST
Fred M’membe has been fighting for their human, political, and economic rights for more than 40 years.In 1970s as a student, he founded a socialist student newsletter.Its focus was on Zambian, international and studen politics. It was an informative and influential left-wing newsletter that called for justice and equity, and provided solidarity with the national liberation movements in southern Africa.Later, in1990, Fred was to build on this student experience by contributing to Multiparty News. This was a newsletter initiated by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) advocating for political change in Zambia. This was before he set up The Post newspaper in July 1991. Through The Post, he created a platform where Zambians had a loud voice and fearlessly pointed out the shortcomings of the existing establishment.
M’MEMBE’S POLITICAL HISTORY
Fred M’membe, supported the liberation struggles in southern Africa and other parts of the world. He became a member of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA)–now the South African Communist Party (SACP)–in 1978. SACP became his political home during these formative years. Leading revolutionaries, such as Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, and Ben Turok, were his mentors.
In 1991, Fred M’membe participated in and gave his total support to the formation of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in Zambia. Under the coordination of Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika and Mbita Chitala, the key programmatic documents for the MMD were put together by a think tank, and a secretariat was set up. M’membe was an active contributor to this process. He participated in editing the MMD’s newsletter, Multiparty News.In 1992, Fred significantly contributed to the formulation of the programmatic documents for theAlliance for Democracy in Malawi (AFORD) under the leadership of trade union activist Chakufwa Chihana.From 1993 until 2014, M’membe continued to support and encourage the formation, as well as the work, of various political platforms in Zambia. His desire was the creation of an environment where good governance, human rights, and freedom of the press could be secured.His support for the National Party (NP) under Baldwin Nkumbula and the Patriotic Front (PF) under Michael Sata is well documented. Both parties were founded on an anti-corruption and pro-poor stance.
M’MEMBE IS AFRICA MOST EDUCATED PRESIDENT
With the death of Robert Mugabe, Fred will be the most highly educated president in Africa.He has a bachelor’s degree in accountancy. He has a law degree. Having studied at the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education, he is a qualified and practising lawyer. He also gained a master’s degree in economic policy management. He has another master’s in taxation and he holds a doctorate in business administration.