Amnesty International SG meets Pilato, others
By Staff Reporter
New Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo has met with activists from Southern Africa, including Zambian satirical musician Pilato.
Pilato, whose real name is Chama Fumba, has been a strong critic of the current government over its soft stance on corruption.
Early this year, he fled the country after receiving death threats from ruling party supporters over his hit song Koswe mu mpoto (rat in a pot) where he criticised President Edgar Lungu and his team’s wastefulness.
He only returned after four months to face a court case where he and other activists stand charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of peace.
He and others were arrested in September last year for protesting against government’s wasteful purchase of 42 fire fighting trucks at a cost of US$1 million each.
Naidoo pledged to strengthen Amnesty International’s work with the activists to tackle the most pressing issues facing the continent.
“Today I met brave and courageous human rights defenders from across Southern Africa who are risking their lives every day by demanding justice, accountability and equality,” Naidoo said on Thursday. “We need to see much more intra-African solidarity for the cause of justice. That is why I chose to start in my role as Secretary General here in Africa, and to speak with activists from across the region to show that we at Amnesty International are serious about working side by side with them to address the key human rights challenges affecting all Africans. My experience with them today reminds me that if anyone in Africa believes we are going to win the struggle for human rights alone, we are deluding ourselves. But together, we are strong.”
Activists from across the Southern Africa region gathered in Johannesburg to share moving accounts of their search for freedom and justice on diverse issues.
Other activists included a health worker, a mechanical engineer, a judge, journalists and campaigners.
All of them shared similar stories of courage, resilience and how much the campaigning and actions taken by Amnesty International supporters meant to them personally.
And Pilato paid tribute to people that have so far shown him solidarity.
“The moment freedom of expression is taken away from me, that’s the moment my life is taken from me. I keep going because of the support of other people who have spoken out for me. I need their solidarity as an artist to continue doing what I do,” said Pilato.