BY NKOSENTSHA KHUMALO
HUMAN rights activists yesterday criticised government over enactment of the Cyber Security and Data Protection Act, saying it would further stifle freedoms to communication and information.
The Cyber Security and Data Protection Act sailed through Parliament in July and was signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Friday.
Although the new law appears to be progressive in strengthening data protection, consolidating cyber-related offences and promoting a technology-driven environment, analysts said the law had provisions that undermine freedoms of expression and the media as codified in section 61 of the Constitution.
In its recent analysis of the law, Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) said the Act contained provisions that obstruct the role of civic society and media in fighting corruption.
“Online media platforms, including social media, have played a key role in exposing corruption scandals in Zimbabwe, leading to investigations by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and conviction of high-profile government officials.
“As such, whistleblowers make use of social media to alert anti-corruption authorities, civic society and media of suspicious cases,” the TI-Z statement read.
Mthwakazi Democratic Alliance president Hloniphani Ncube said Zanu PF enacted the law to suppress dissenting voices.
“The government introduced this law because it was feeling the pressure and it wants people to remain silent,” Ncube said.
Among other issues, the new law regulates the manner in which personal information held by telecommunication companies such as Econet, NetOne and Telecel may be processed.
Ncube said people should be free to express themselves on any media platforms.
Section 164(F) of the Act prohibits the production and dissemination of racist material, xenophobia with citizens prohibited from posting about anti-government protests.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa recently said the government had set up a cyber team to “monitor what people will send and receive on social media”.