Evolution of anti-corruption journalism in Africa: lessons from Zambia

Isaac Phiri

Abstract


All African countries, where there are functioning states, express a strong desire to curb corruption. The African Union has a convention to prevent and combat corruption. Zambia, under President Levy Mwanawasa, has positioned itself as a leader in Africa's fight against corruption. Last year, former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba was found guilty of grand corruption by a London court in a case brought against him by the Zambian government. There is general agreement that the media plays a significant role in the war against plunder of national resources by African leaders. However, studies that examine exactly how the media influences the decisions and actions of public actors in Africa's anti-corruption agenda are few. This paper aims to fill this gap. The goal is to use the Zambian case to gain a clearer understanding of the evolution of anti-graft journalism in Africa and to derive enduring insights into the relationship between the anti-corruption actions of the state and anti-corruption reporting by the press. Three key questions provide a framework for this investigation: 1) Is the press driving the Zambian government's anti-corruption campaign? 2) Is President Mwanawasa's 'zero-tolerance' campaign self-generated and the press simply following and reporting news events coming out of the bold steps already determined by the government? 3) Is it possible that the press and the state have found common ground and formed an informal but formidable alliance to combat graft?

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5789/2-1-32

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