What is the role of Cyber Security Minister Chinamasa?

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As you may know now there was a cabinet reshuffle yesterday and a new ministry popped up. The Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation. The minister being outgoing Finance minister Patrick Antony Chinamasa.

As this news broke, jokes were made that Chinamasa is now the WhatsApp group admin for Zimbabwe. Memes popped up all over social media mocking the creation of the ministry and also the appointment. Maybe we do need a minister of Cyber Security after all.

So if not Zimbabwe WhatsApp group admin, what is his role?

First let us look at what cyber security means. In its basic definition it refers to those preventative techniques used to protect the integrity of networks, programs and data from attack, damage and unauthorised access. Cyber criminals around the world exploit weaknesses to steal information and money. They are also targeting governments’ ability to deliver essential services.

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Seeing as Zimbabwean service delivery is not dependent on technology as we are still mostly offline that threat to essential services delivery is not that big here. An example of the threat to essential services delivery would be cyber criminals hacking the systems of a nuclear plant and in the best case scenario depriving millions of electricity or the transport system and messing with subway train schedules.

In Zimbabwe you could hack ZESA but their systems are not integrated or centralised to a point where you could cause major damage. Our transport system here cannot be hacked. Copacabana cannot be brought down by a computer. You could hack the army and find that personnel records or whatever missions they are working on were not punched into any computer but are stored neatly in lever arch files filling enormous cabinets.

The cyber threats we face in Zimbabwe are not to government operations and service delivery. There however are systems that if hacked this country could be brought to its knees. Just recently we saw both ZIPIT and EcoCash have system outages, not at the same time thankfully. If that happened though, with the country’s reliance on electronic money, mayhem might ensue. People might lose their hard earned bond notes whilst someone enriches themselves in the process.

Both ZIPIT and EcoCash are not government services and so have their own security measures but maybe the government might want to play a role in ensuring that those systems are secure.

The cyber threat in Zimbabwe that necessitated the creation of a Cyber Security ministry has to be the abuse of social media. We have seen an increase in cases of revenge porn and fake news recently. Fake news in particular caused a panic buying spree when it was falsely spread on WhatsApp that there was an imminent shortage of basic goods on the way.

That episode saw even the president respond and claim that those messages had been propagated by those seeking subversion of the country. Many government officials spoke on that issue, Chinamasa then as Finance minister included and the sentiment was that the government viewed social media as a threat to national security. So in that sense it is fair that people are calling VaChinamasa the Zim WhatsApp group admin as it seems social media will be his main focus.

So the biggest cyber threat that the country is facing is that of social media abuse and fake news. Individual Zimbabweans however face many more threats as tech novices have been pushed to risky transactions like internet banking when many do not have basic online security knowledge. Banks going paperless is welcome but threats increase as we move online.

Zimbabwe is readying a new law that deals with cyber threats and when it is finalised we will get a clearer picture of what VaChinamasa will be doing. We however know that social media regulation will be a big part of it.

ZesaWhatsAppBond Notes

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings is the country's biggest power producer and regulating company. It operates under the Ministry and Energy and Power Development and it runs a number of subsidiary companies with various specialities in power regulation and communications. Read More About Zesa

WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows mobile phone users to exchange messages without having to pay for Short Message Services costs. WhatsApp Messenger application is compatible with different mobile phone models such as iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia. The... Read More About WhatsApp

Bond Notes are a currency of notes backed by a bond that the Zimbabwe government announced on 4 May 2016 by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya. The $2 denomination of the notes was finally introduced on 28 November 2016. More notes were... Read More About Bond Notes

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11 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    National Whatsapp group admin

  2. Bob Masby says:

    as long as he getiing his pay and full perks…..whatever man chinamasa is a good and hard working man

  3. Dr says:

    Chinamasa is one of the good and dedicated ministers from ZANU PF. This should be a department under CIO

  4. T.Mazibuko says:

    Useless ministry

  5. Anonymous says:

    wasn’t it wise to put that ministry

    under information and tech or home affairs is there a need to create a new ministry under a government suffering under bankruptcy and ballooning wage bill

  6. Dr. Luckson Ndere says:

    The creation of this ministry is clear evidence of a one step forward and two steps backwards, some years ago ministries were fused in a bid to make a saving on the obviously scarce resources…the creation of a new ministry altogether seems uncalled for. It can be said to be unlikely that government sincerely is concerned about safity of services provided by private companies such as Econet wireless with reference to the sour relationship between the two

  7. Engineer says:

    this new ministry will be responsible for jamming our social media sites to minimise information relay regarding elections.

  8. Grace Jones says:

    seeing zw uses plastic money and lots of transfer online. Perhaps they feel the area of online trade must be regulated

  9. kaguvi says:

    CHINAMASA TO MR PRESIDENT. ..PEOPLE ARE STEALING CASH THROUGH CYBER-SPACE CAUSING CASH SHORTAGES, CYBER SPACE IS MAKING BOND NOTE OUT OF PAR WITH US$, LOOK WHAT CYBER SPACE IS DOING….THE CASH DEALERS ARE HOOKING UP THERE AND SPOILING MY MINISTRY AND REPUTATION…PLEASE MR PRESIDENT SHUTTLE ME TO CYBER-SPACE I NEED TO DEAL WITH THIS ONCE AND FOR ALL…..MR. PRESIDENT-WISH GRANTED

  10. Eng says:

    This is the most important ministry.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Dear Minister of Cyber Security and all that follows after that, Where are you while people are leaking ZIMSEC papers online (on Whats App)? Or don’t you possess that specific power over such concerns.. Are these concerns for the Ministry of Education or can we just round off to the fact that the ministry is failing? I’m really concerned because I believe as monitors of the various activities of the people on Social Media you should be able to find out where all this is coming from, whether by hacking or whatever method, it’s a necessary evil.

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