/ 30 April 2021

International academics reject sedition charge against Zambia’s Dr Sishuwa

Sishuwa Sishuwa
Dr Sishuwa Sishuwa, is to be charged with sedition, as the result of an opinion piece he published in the Mail & Guardian, on 22 March 2021. (Twitter)

We, the undersigned, as prominent academics in Zambia, Africa and the wider world, are deeply alarmed at credible reports that the University of Zambia (UNZA) historian, Dr  Sishuwa Sishuwa, is to be charged with sedition, as the result of an opinion piece he  published in the Mail & Guardian, on 22 March 2021.  

As historians and social scientists, who have studied and published in and about Zambia for many decades, we are extremely concerned that the threat of sedition charges is being used to silence the legitimate expression of belief by one of the country’s most prominent early career scholars.

Dr Sishuwa, who has published outstanding and prize-winning research  articles in the world’s most prominent African studies journals, is drawing on his research expertise to bring to public attention his concerns about the current direction of Zambian political life. 

Far from inciting popular rebellion (as the term “sedition” implies), he seeks to address the underlying causes of societal tension as a way to reduce it. We believe it is both his right and his patriotic duty to bring such concerns into the public eye. Article 20 of the Constitution of Zambia guarantees Dr Sishuwa and all other Zambians freedom of  expression, that is to say freedom to hold opinions, receive ideas and impart or  communicate ideas and information without interference.  

As citizens and longstanding friends of Zambia, who have documented the country’s  prominent historical role in the political liberation of Southern Africa, and its pioneering role  in constitutional democratisation, we are worried about the proposed use of an authoritarian tool such as the charge of sedition, and call for any consideration of such charges to be immediately and permanently dropped.  

We are further alarmed by the University of Zambia statement, dated 27 April 2021, disassociating the university from its employee, Dr Sishuwa. This misleading statement suggests Dr Sishuwa is not currently employed by the university, when he is, as is normal for academic researchers, on temporary research leave from it. Indeed, as recently as December last year, UNZA publicly celebrated the achievements of Dr Sishuwa.  

We have all worked at or with colleagues from UNZA, long a prominent university that has, since independence, been a centre of intellectual freedom, often in difficult circumstances.  We wholly reject the allegation that Dr Sishuwa is pursuing a “personal agenda” and call on the university to guarantee Dr Sishuwa’s continued employment and his right to academic  freedom.  


  1. Professor Rita Abrahamsen, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa
  2. Dr Michael Aeby, Research Associate, IDCCPA University of Cape Town & University of Edinburgh
  3. The African Studies Association of Africa
  4. Professor Akosua Adomako Ampofo, University of Ghana, and President of the African Studies Association of Africa
  5. Professor David M. Anderson, Professor of African History, University of Warwick
  6. Professor Kate Baldwin, Associate Professor of Political Science, Yale University
  7. Professor Robert Bates, Eaton Professor Emeritus of the Science of Government, Harvard University
  8. Dr Nicole Beardsworth, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Pretoria
  9. Sarah Bellows-Blakely, Research Fellow in Global Intellectual History, Freie Universität Berlin
  10. Dr Eloïse Bertrand, Research Fellow, University of Portsmouth
  11. Dr Chaloka Beyani, Professor of International Law, Law Department, London School of Economics and Political Science.
  12. Professor Catherine Boone, Department of International Development, London School of Economics and Political Science
  13. Professor Michael Bratton, Emeritus Professor of Government, Michigan State University
  14. Caesar Cheelo, Research Economist – Trade and Customs Division, COMESA Secretariat 
  15. Professor Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy, University of Birmingham
  16. Dr Grieve Chelwa, Postdoctoral Fellow, The New School
  17. Geoffrey Chibuye, Independent 
  18. Professor Simukai Chigudu, Associate Professor of African Politics, University of Oxford
  19. Dr Isaac Chinyoka, Centre for Social Science Research, University of Cape Town
  20. Roy Clarke, former lecturer in Education at the University of Zambia, 1979-89, political satirist at the Post Newspaper 1996-2009
  21. Dr Michaela Collord, Junior Research Fellow, New College, University of Oxford
  22. Leila Demarest, Assistant Professor of African Politics, Institute of Political Science, Leiden University
  23. Dr Kim Yi Dionne, Associate Professor of Political Science, UC Riverside
  24. Professor Gregor Dobler, Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  25. Professor Lindiwe Dovey, Professor of Film and Screen Studies, School of Arts, SOAS University of London
  26. Dr Boniface Dulani, Senior Lecturer in Political Science, University of Malawi
  27. Dr Jonathan Fisher, Reader in African Politics, University of Birmingham
  28. Dr Alastair Fraser, Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London
  29. Dr Elena Gadjanova, Lecturer in Politics, University of Exeter
  30. Courtney Hallink, PhD student, University of Cambridge 
  31. Professor Antoinette Handley, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto
  32. Dr Anne Heffernan, Assistant Professor in Southern African History, Durham University
  33. Sacha Hepburn, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Birkbeck, University of London 
  34. Professor Samuel Hickey, Professor of Politics and Development, University of Manchester
  35. Marja Hinfelaar, Director of Research and Programmes, Southern African Institute for Policy and Research
  36. Professor Alan Hirsch, Emeritus Professor of Public Governance, University of Cape Town
  37. Dr Dan Hodgkinson, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Oxford
  38. Professor Kristine Höglund, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University.  
  39. Dr Chris Huggins, Assistant Professor, School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa
  40. Professor Faizel Ismail, Professor of Public Governance, University of Cape Town
  41. Zenobia Ismail, Research Fellow, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham
  42. Samson Itodo, Yiaga Africa 
  43. Professor Hambaba Jimaima, Department of Literature and Languages, University of Zambia
  44. Diana Jeater, Associate Dean, Department of History, University of Liverpool
  45. Dr Will Jones, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, Department of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy, Royal Holloway, University of London
  46. Dr Walima Kalusa, Senior Lecturer in African History, University of eSwatini, and former Head of the Department of History, University of Zambia
  47. Lillian Kamusiime, Independent
  48. Dr Julius Kapembwa, Lecturer in Philosophy, The University of Zambia. 
  49. Victor Kanyense, Indeepndent Social Scientist & Development Specialist 
  50. Professor Chammah J. Kaunda, Assistant Professor of World Christianity and Mission Studies, Yonsei University
  51. Kalaluka Kapungu, Citizen of Zambia
  52. Stephen Kamugasa, Independent Researcher
  53. Rita Kesselring, Senior Lecturer at the Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Basel
  54. Aikande C. Kwayu, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  55. Stephanie Lämmert, Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Human Development
  56. Professor Miles Larmer, Professor of African History, University of Oxford
  57. Professor Baz Lecocq, Chair African History, Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin
  58. Professor Staffan I. Lindberg, Director, V-Dem Institute, of Political Science, University of Gothenburg
  59. Sworo Nelson Henry Lo’boka, Africa Call, South Sudan
  60. Dr Terrence Lyons, Associate Professor, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution, George Mason University
  61. Professor Adrienne LeBas, Associate Professor of Government, American University
  62. Dr Reuben A. Loffman, Lecturer in African History, Queen Mary University of London 
  63. Professor Gabrielle Lynch, Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick. 
  64. Dr Ainara Mancebo, Research Scholar, Ronin Institute
  65. Hugh Macmillan, Research Fellow, University of Oxford
  66. Kuukuwa Manful, PhD Researcher, SOAS, University of London
  67. Professor Robert Mattes, Professor of Political Science, University of Strathclyde
  68. Monte McMurchy, Rector American Christian Liberal Arts University Congo—UCI
  69. Professor Henning Melber, Nordic Africa Institute; University of Pretoria; University of the Free State
  70. Kelvin Mmabwe, University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union
  71. Robert Molteno, formerly Lecturer in Political Science and Public Administration, University of Zambia, 1968-1976
  72. Dr Duncan Money, Researcher, African Studies Centre, University of Leiden
  73. Jason Mosley, Research Associate, African Studies Centre, Oxford University
  74. Steriah Mudenda, School of Education, The University of Zambia
  75. Hassan Mudane, Lecturer, Department of Political Science, City University of Mogadishu.
  76. John Munkombwe, Lecturer, Institute of Distance Education, The University of Zambia
  77. Dr Patience Mususa, Senior Researcher, Nordic Africa Institute
  78. Victor Mutelelekesha, Contemporary Artist, Founder of The Lusaka Contemporary Art Centre
  79. Jean Mwape, Citizen of Zambia
  80. Dr Mack Ndawana, IFP Subject Lead, Centre for Academic Language and Development, University of Bristol
  81. Youngson Ndawana, Lecturer in Media Studies, University of Zambia
  82. Professor Manenga Ndulo, Professor of Economics, University of Zambia
  83. Professor Muna Ndulo, Professor of Law, Cornell University
  84. Daniel Munday, PhD Candidate, University of Birmingham
  85. Dr Bruce Mutsvairo, Professor of Journalism, Auburn University
  86. Chantry Mweemba, International Relations and Human Rights expert
  87. Olívio Nkilumbu – Professor, Politólogo e Consultor Político, Magistério Mutu Ya Kevela e Universidade Óscar Ribas
  88. Nanjala Nyabola, Independent Researcher
  89. Dr Robert Nyenhuis, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Cal Poly Pomona
  90. Dr Ken O. Opalo, Assistant Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University 
  91. Dr Dan Paget, Lecturer in Politics, University of Aberdeen
  92. Dr Michael Panzer, Adjunct Professor in History, Marist College
  93. Dr Lazlo Passemiers, Senior Lecturer, University of the Free State, South Africa
  94. Dr Justin Pearce, Research Fellow Global Soldiers, University of Sussex
  95. Professor Didier Péclard, Associate Professor of Politics and African Studies, University of Geneva
  96. Dr Iva Pesa, Assistant Professor Contemporary History, University of Groningen
  97. Professor Anne Pitcher, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan
  98. Professor Daniel Posner, Department of Political Science, UCLA
  99. Dr Deborah Potts, Emeritus Reader in Human Geography, King’s College London
  100. Professor Lise Rakner, Professor of Comparative Politics, University of Bergen
  101. Professor Brian Raftopoulos, Research Fellow, University of the Free State
  102. Elelwani Ramugondo, Chairperson of the Academic Freedom Committee, University of Cape Town
  103. Cleopas Sambo, Lecturer, Department of Social Work & Sociology, University of Zambi
  104. Dr Sara Rich Dorman, Senior Lecturer in African Politics, University of Edinburgh
  105. Professor Oliver Saasa, Professor of International Economic Relations & Chancellor, Mulungushi University
  106. Pamela Towela Sambo, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Zambia
  107. Dr Edalina Rodrigues Sanches, Assistant Professor, ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon (Portugal) 
  108. Dr Jenna Sapiano, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre (GPS), Monash University
  109. Professor Chris Saunders, Emeritus Professor of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town
  110. Nicolai Schulz, Postdoctoral Researcher, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
  111. Dr Laura E. Seay, Assistant Professor, Department of Government, Colby College
  112. Dr Marcia C. Schenck , Professor of Global History, University of Potsdam
  113. Professor Jeremy Seekings, Professor of Political Studies and Sociology, University of Cape Town
  114. Professor David Simon, Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
  115. Eunifridah Simuyaba, Lecturer, University of Zambia 
  116. Dr Neo Simutanyi, retired Senior Lecturer in Political Science, University of Zambia and Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue
  117. Doreen Sitali, School of Public Health, University of Zambia
  118. Dr Lahra Smith, Associate Professor, African Studies Program & Department of Government, Georgetown University
  119. Christian von Soest, Lead Research Fellow, Head of Peace and Security Research Program, German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
  120. Dr Morris Szeftel, Senior Lecturer Emeritus, Political & International Studies, University of Leeds
  121. Professor Blessing-Miles Tendi, Associate Professor in African Politics, University of Oxford
  122. Professor Aili Mari Tripp, Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  123. Dr Robin L. Turner, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Butler University
  124. Bridget Bwalya Umar, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Zambia
  125. Professor Peter VonDoepp, Dept. of Political Science, University of Vermont
  126. Professor Nicolas van de Walle, Professor of Government, Cornell Universit
  127. Dr Michael Wahman, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University
  128. Martin Waithaka, Independent
  129. Dr Peter Wafula Wekesa, Department of History, Kenyatta University, Kenya.