Beyond Research is a Zambian company with the stated aim of “enhancing access to justice”. According to its website, Beyond Research’s work involves running programmes on the themes of law and justice and conducting research including “specialist areas of legal and institutional analysis, field surveys, quantitative and qualitative analysis”. However, since 2017, the activities described on Beyond Research’s website, its published reports and YouTube channel have focussed on debating Zambia’s role in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Links to tobacco industry
Conducted research for JTI
In 2018, Beyond Research undertook a study purportedly to assess the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions (KAP) of Zambian tobacco farmers, government officials and other stakeholders with regards to the FCTC. An undated letter from Lungowe Matakala, the Executive Director of Beyond Research, inviting an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to participate in a “Stakeholders’ Perceptions Study” states that a study of this nature was being conducted on behalf of Japan Tobacco International (JTI).
According to a factsheet developed by Beyond Research, the KAP study concluded that there was a lack of awareness about the FCTC among tobacco farmers, the general public, civic leaders, traditional leaders and some government departments, and recommended that “the Ministry of Health should engage and broaden consultations with all key stakeholders”, including tobacco industry groups. As of January 2020, the results of the study have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
A former consultant employed to work on the KAP study has told Tobacco Tactics that Beyond Research attempted to modify some of the data on tobacco farming to suit the needs of JTI, which was funding the research. The consultant stated that:
“In many districts we went to, tobacco farmers lamentably complained they’re being exploited by the industry and the tobacco buyers… but I noticed that when we were doing the data analysis, Beyond Research’s top team were very concerned with the findings. They kept saying, no, these findings are not good for our client. And eventually I came to learn that the sponsor of that study was a tobacco company… JTI.”
These claims are supported by an email from Lungowe Matakala to the contractee which states “we reserve the right to amend what you will submit to fit our agreement with the client”.
Anti-FCTC Student Essay Competition
Beyond Research ran an essay competition on the theme ‘The Way Forward with Tobacco in Zambia’ in November 2017. Students were invited to submit essays discussing whether Zambia should respect its obligations under the FCTC or instead “grow its economy” by promoting tobacco growing and production. In a media release promoting the competition, the University of Zambia’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Enala Tembo-Mwase called on Zambian students to “participate in critical thinking on matters affecting the nation”. Beyond Research published a compendium of selected essays, which were predominantly opposed to Zambia complying with FCTC obligations. Excerpts from this compendium include:
- “Zambia needs to negate its obligations to the FCTC. It needs to invest more in research and making smoking safer.”
- “Zambia may take on the route of FCTC, but at the end of the day will this obligation benefit our economy? Certainly not, tobacco growing has the potential of improving our economy…”
- “It is clear that limiting the production of tobacco is more detrimental than actually promoting it.”
The winner of the essay competition was awarded K10,000 (approximately $760 USD), the first runner-up received K5,000 (approx. $380 USD) and the second runner-up won K2,500 (approx. $190 USD).
Beyond Research publicised this competition, and the viewpoints put forward in the essays, widely. For instance, Lungowe Matakala appeared on Radio Phoenix stating that: “…the solution for Zambia as an economy, in my own humble opinion, the solution is not to curtail the tobacco industry.” An awards ceremony took place at the Inter-Continental Hotel on 1st December 2017, and the top three students who won the competition were also scheduled to appear on national radio programmes on 19th and 20th February 2018 to share their views and recommendations with regards to the FCTC.
Lungowe Matakala has been the Executive Director, Research Director and Lead Consultant of Beyond Research, since at least November 2017. As of January 2020, she is also a lecturer in the Department of Private Law at the University of Zambia. Her brother, Litiya Matakala, is Corporate Affairs and Communications Manager of Japan Tobacco International (JTI) in Lusaka, Zambia. In 2017, Litiya Matakala appeared in the Zambian Daily Mail, where he urged the Ministry of Health to have “dialogue with all stakeholders” in regards to the FCTC, and objected to the tobacco industry being “excluded” from FCTC discussions.
Anti-FCTC ‘Moot court’ Competition
In March and April 2018, Beyond Research held national and regional Moot Court Competitions on the FCTC. A moot court is a mock court hearing in which participants argue for and against a particular legal situation. The hearing in this instance was situated in a hypothetical country, Langaria (which had similar geographic and demographic characteristics as Zambia), and described litigation by the tobacco industry against the Ministry of Health over tobacco control regulations. A four-page document outlined the hypothetical legal case and portrayed tobacco as being extremely important to the economy, claiming that tobacco control policies would result in “too many far-reaching and negative consequences”, including significant job losses in tobacco manufacturing and farming. It also claimed that one particular (hypothetical) tobacco company, Impression Tobacco (IT), had “greatly” contributed to society by installing water boreholes and tanks; building toilets, bus shelters, clinics and schools; awarding student scholarships and developing agricultural schemes for farmers.
In advance of the moot courts, Beyond Research circulated this document to a range of stakeholders including civil servants in Zambia’s Cabinet office, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour; Zambian Development and Business Regulatory Review agencies, tobacco control NGOs and various tobacco industry representatives, all of whom were invited to attend the moot court events. This pro-tobacco information was also promoted via social media. The national rounds of the moot court competition took place on 26 - 27 March 2018, with various cash prizes awarded ranging from K10,000 (approximately $760 USD), to K2,500 (approx. $190 USD). The winning team represented Zambia in the regional rounds on 5 – 6 April 2018, which involved students from universities in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania. These events were heavily promoted via social media, radio and online. Beyond Research subsequently published a “Synopsis of Pro-Tobacco Legal Arguments” based on those raised in the moot court competition.
Lack of transparency
JTI has not been listed on Beyond Research’s website as a partner or a client, and no information disclosing the Executive Director’s interests in JTI has been displayed on its website or in its publications. As of January 2020, the Beyond Research website listed the following organisations as its partners:
- Ministry of Justice
- Law Association of Zambia
- Legal Aid Board
- University of Zambia
- Transcend Media
- Beyond Research, Research Consultancy, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- Beyond Research, Programmes, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- Beyond Research, Events, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- Beyond Research, YouTube channel, accessed 7 January 2020
- Beyond Research, FCTC Moot Court Competition, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- Lungowe Matakala, Letter to an official at the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, undated, subject: RE: Introduction of Researcher on Stakeholders’ Perceptions Study for Japan Tobacco International (JTI)
- Beyond Research, The KAP Study, undated, accessed 5 June 2019
- Research interview conducted by the Tobacco Control Research Team with former Beyond Research contractee, Lusaka, 9 May 2019
- Lungowe Matakala, Email to former Beyond Research contractee (anonymity protected), 5 November 2018
- Beyond Research, FCTC 2017 Essay Competition, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- Beyond Research, 2017 FCTC Essay Competition: A Compendium of Selected Essays, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- Beyond Research, BR radio phoenix interview on Zambia’s accession to the FCTC, 11 June 2018, accessed 5 June 2019
- Lungowe Matakala, Email, 19 February 2018 15:50, subject: RE: Students' FCTC discussion on radio today and tomorrow
- Beyond Research, Index, undated, accessed 12 February 2018
- University of Zambia, Dr. Lungowe Matakala, undated, accessed 7 January 2020
- Litiya Matakala, LinkedIn profile, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- Japan Tobacco International, JTI in Zambia, undated, accessed 3 June 2019
- J. Zimba, Clear smoke on tobacco regulation – JTI, 5 April 2017, accessed 3 June 2019
- Beyond Research, A Synopsis of Pro-Tobacco Legal Arguments Raised in the 2018 FCTC Moot Court Competition, undated
- Beyond Research, FCTC Moot Court Competition – Hypothetical Question, 2018
- Lungowe Matakala, Email, 16 March 2018 17:22, subject: Invitation to the national and regional FCTC moot court competitions
- FCTC Moot Court Competition, Facebook page, undated, accessed 5 June 2019
- Beyond Research, Partners, undated, accessed 3 June 2019