Início » Angola: Camundanews owner takes channel offline for fear, pressure by authorities

Angola: Camundanews owner takes channel offline for fear, pressure by authorities


The owner of Angola’s TV Camundanews said on Wednesday that he had decided to suspend the broadcast of the online channel due to the pressure he has been subjected to by the Criminal Investigation Service (SIC) and the feeling of insecurity that has affected the entire team.

Speaking to Lusa Agency, David Boio explained that he was called to the authorities to be heard as a declarant because of a programme by social activist ‘Gangasta’, suspected of criminal association, instigation of rebellion, instigation of civil disobedience and outrage against the country’s president.

“They called me to go to the SIC as a declarant. I went there, but in practice, rather than asking questions about the process, they asked questions about our portal,” said David Boio.

Accompanied by his lawyer, the businessman explained that in May last year they had received a notification from the ministry of social communication to present the documents that authorised the operation of the portal.

“At the time, we responded to the ministry, saying that we were unaware, according to the analysis we did of the Press Law, we found no legal framework for the content that is simply on social networks and the government never answered us back,” he stressed.

‘Gangsta’, a critic of power, refuses to comply with the terms of periodic presentation before the authorities to prove identity and residence, imposed on him by the Angolan justice system, and is camping in an uncertain part.

“We have not received anything formal from the ministry [of telecommunications, information technology and social communication],” acknowledged David Boio, noting that ‘Gangsta’ was part of a programme called 360º that was, for some time broadcast on Youtube, on the Camundanews platform, from which he was charged with incitement to violence or rebellion and crime against the security of the state.

In the questioning, David Boio continued, the authorities informed him that it was only a portal, not a company, which is on Facebook and Youtube, with volunteers, who “by citizenship” produce content.

“Three weeks ago they called me again to go there, they asked me to take the company’s documents from the office and the prosecutor wanted me to go there to be heard again,” he recounted.

After some time, in Luanda, the owner of TV Camundanews, responded to the notification and the instructor insisted that it was necessary to present a document on the legalisation of the YouTube channel.

“I told him we don’t have it, I had already explained that. They wanted me to make some kind of confession saying that I was carrying out an illegal activity, I said no again. There is no illegality unless there is another understanding of the Press Law”, he added.

The aim, in his view, is “to set up something like: ‘Gangsta’ supposedly committed a crime, the crime was committed on a programme, the programme aired on the Camundanews portal and the crime was done on an illegal portal, I think that’s the narrative they are setting up”.

“I stayed for over an hour making statements and at the end you told me that you gathered everything, you were going to hand it over to the prosecutor and the prosecutor was going to decide the matter for trial, and that I had to wait and see if they keep me only as a declarant or if according to the matter they can include me anything else,” he advanced.

To his employees, David Boio told them what was going on and many “have been scared since last year when we had the SIC in there and the staff are kind of scared. I told them that no one is forcing anyone to stay, if they want we can suspend it until this situation is resolved”.

“The staff are scared because they don’t clarify things. I went there, two other employees of mine also had to go to the SIC, they are younger, then that is a department of crimes against the security of the State, all this creates fear,” he explained.

Questioned on the state of press freedom in Angola in recent years, David Boio pointed out that “before 2022, before the elections, they [the government] didn’t give much importance to this internet thing, they always said that this is nothing, that Angolans don’t have access to the internet, but they were surprised last year”.

The importance of the channel “caught their attention when we did an interview with Adalberto [leader of the National Union for Total Independence of Angola], which had a very, very large audience”, he stressed.

“That’s why I think that in May last year the ministry notified us, but formally they realised that they had nothing to hold on to, because if they had, they would do as they did to ZAP and the others, have them closed down and that was it,” he said, in a reference to other private media companies.

According to David Boio, the authorities have difficulty in closing down Camundanews formally, “but then they subject people to these things, to see if the person gets fed up”.

With these pressures, “no-one wants to live like this, I can’t be on SIC all the time, I have other things to do”, and it’s “always a risk”, he considered.

“Basically, what they want is for people to be afraid”, he said, stressing that his employees suffer pressure from family members worried about their safety, which is why he decided to “stop and think about it calmly, and then we’ll see”.

Today, the union of Angolan journalists (SJA) called the pressure on the owner of Camundanews to suspend the broadcast of journalistic content for alleged violation of the Press Law an attack on press freedom.

In a press release, to which Lusa news agency had access today, the SJA considers an “abuse of power and obstruction to the exercise of press freedom the pressure on the owner of Camundanews to stop broadcasting informative content, and calls on the Media Regulatory Authority to speak out in favour of press freedom.

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