Zambian musician Pilato has fled his country after receiving threats over a song which has been interpreted as criticising President Edgar Lungu and his ruling Patriotic Front (PF) ministers.
The artist whose real name is Fumba Chama left Zambia on 5 January after receiving threats over his new song Koswe Mumpoto (rat in the pot).
In the song he sings that the ruling elites are behaving like rats that steal food and eat, including things that they do not need.
Pilato decided to leave after receiving a video message in December recorded by cadres of the ruling PF who threatened to beat him for releasing the song, which has been a huge hit since it came out in December.
According to Amnesty International, the chairperson of the party for Central Province had ordered Pilato to stop singing the song on 11 December. Radio and TV stations were also ordered to stop playing it by the authorities.
Police also denied Pilato permits to perform at several planned concerts in December. In places where he was allowed to sing, police imposed conditions, including orders not to play any of his controversial songs.
Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty International has said Zambian authorities must immediately take steps to guarantee right to freedom of expression for artists.
In a statement on Tuesday, Amnesty says a crackdown on dissent forced the artist out of Zambia.
“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 International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.
“The right to freedom of expression must be allowed to thrive,” he added.