ICT Minister says Zimbabwe’s Cybercrime Bill not targeted at campaigns like #ThisFlag, #Tajamuka

   

Supa Mandiwanzira

Zimbabwe’s draft Computer Crime and Cybercrime Bill has attracted a lot of attention this past week and people have questioned some of its provisions which can stifle social media expression.

It contains provisions that deal with the use of digital platforms to incite violence and to cause civil unrest that seem like ideal tools for quelling any mass movement.

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The government has however denied this. In an interview with the BBC, the Minister of ICT Supa Mandiwanzira said it would be wrong to assume that the Cybercrime Bill is targeted at campaigns like #ThisFlag and #Tajamuka.

In response to a question on whether or not people supporting these campaigns would be targeted Mandiwanzira highlighted that as long as people were maintaining communication within the confines of the law they would have nothing to worry about.

He also defended the timing of the introduction of the bill, pointing out how it has been in the works for years.

Despite all these assurances it’s hard for a lot of Zimbabweans to take the Minister’s word and the government’s statements on social media abuse as anything but threats against online political expression.

Online activism has spiked in Zimbabwe over the past few months and the statements from the government regarding its efforts to control the cyberspace, including words from the army sound like intimidation.

No matter what is said over and over again by the authorities,  the Cybercrime Bill will seem like a threatening and oppressive legislation brought up in response to the developments in the political environment.


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