ASSISTANT EDITOR 19 April 2017
HARARE – Government will enact the Computers and Cyber Crime Bill, which
will empower it to snoop into people’s phones, before the country holds
the eagerly anticipated 2018 elections.
Information Communication Technology minister (ICT) Supa Mandiwanzira said
enactment of the Bill into law should not coincide with the crucial polls.
Mandiwanzira made these remarks while officially opening a Southern Africa
media stakeholders’ conference that was recently convened by the Media
Alliance of Zimbabwe (Maz) under the theme, “Promoting Internet freedom
and free expression in southern Africa”.
“Consultations around the Cyber Bills are at an advanced stage and the ICT
ministry will soon be tabling them before Cabinet,” said Mandiwanzira.
“We do not want this process to be viewed as an attempt to curtail
people’s freedoms during the elections period and as such we will seek to
conclude the process as soon as possible.”
Although the Bill, which critics say grants government access into
citizens’ lives, is viewed with suspicion by many, Mandiwanzira said
people are free to make their contributions before it is taken to Cabinet
and eventually Parliament where it will be passed into law.
“We have an open door policy at the ministry and continue to urge any
citizen with submissions on the Bill to bring them forward so that we can
address the concerns.
“At the end of the day we want laws that strike a balance between
promoting citizens freedoms while protecting them.”
The former deputy minister of Media and Information also revealed that
government is working with other countries in the Southern Africa
Development Community (Sadc) in promoting Internet access, with an 80
percent Internet penetration target by 2020.
“As Zimbabwe we are aiming to supersede the regional target and we are
aiming to reach 100 percent Internet penetration by 2020. We also want to
be trendsetters in so far as implementing progressive cyber legislation in
line with Sadc model law.”
He said that the uptake and use of ICTs in Zimbabwe has greatly increased
in recent years and that government continues to invest in ICTs
infrastructure development and education.
“Zimbabwe currently has an active mobile penetration reach of 94,8 percent
and Internet penetration rate of 50 percent as of 31 December 2016.
“The government has developed information kiosks and community information
centres for the less privileged members of society to have access to
He added that the ICT ministry was also committed to addressing the issue
on the cost of accessing the Internet as evidenced by government’s
intervention in scraping the hikes to mobile data tariffs so that citizens
are not priced off their right to speak and interact.
“The contribution of civil society in the ongoing consultations is greatly
appreciated as it complements the capacity building exercises and
awareness campaigns being carried out by Sadc and its member states,” he
Speaking at the same occasion, Maz programmes manager Nigel Nyamutumbu
said there is need for southern Africa to collectively address common
challenges curtailing the enjoyment of media freedom in the region.
“Southern Africa is faced with common media challenges particularly as it
relates to the legal and policy framework, the safety and security of
journalists, Internet freedom and even media professionalism,” said
The conference was attended by various media stakeholders in the region
including editors, journalists, government officials, online activists,
media managers and civil society organisations among others.