Mnangagwa’s Govt Getting Facial Recognition Tech From China

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar

The Zimbabwean Government is believed to be importing a mass facial recognition system, Cloudwalk Technology, as they look to ramp up security efforts. The system is being imported as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The Belt and Road Initiative is a is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation  between China and foreign powers. Initially it was a Eurasian agreement that would see China deal exclusively with European countries but this move seems suggest the initiative is now going global. Or maybe Zimbabwe is just getting preferential treatment.

What is this cloudwalk technology?

Cloudwalk technology was launched in February this year which means Zimbabwe is one of the first countries to adopt this kind of technology. The technology has been described as 3D light facial technology. It’s been touted as a better service than 2D facial recognition. 2D facial recognition was not reliable because it could not easily recognize darker skin shades which limited it’s functionality.

CloudWalk provides hardware products such as facial recognition terminals, facial recognition physical access controls, and big data and facial recognition platforms for use by commercial airlines and police departments.

Still I have a lot of questions to ask and understand before making a verdict on the technology…

How good is this technology and who else is using it?

Cloudwalk’s big data facial recognition technology is used by 23 police departments and was also used in China’s ‘Police Cloud’ effort but this program was ended after Human Rights Watch complained about the program.

The report by Global Times states that :

The company is also developing an AI system which can recognize different people from their gait, shape or haircut and could be added to facial recognition,

Does this mean the system being deployed is not yet complete. If the system is incomplete what will happen once the provider of this tech has a more updated solution. Will we have to buy new hardware or a software update will do the trick?

Are the government’s priorities right?

At a time where government cannot afford to pay doctors or to buy medical supplies it comes into question whether this type of advancement is necessary. Yes technological advancement excites us but when technology is implemented without a particular use case then the question becomes whether this technology is necessary at all.

Will the technology be used appropriately?

The introduction of this technology is a welcome step but it’s a cause for concern as well…

As always, when a surveillance tool is introduced we have to ask whether this tool might be used for nefarious purposes. In a country such as ours where there have been multiple human rights violations over the years I am genuinely concerned whether this technology will be used for greater good. Hopefully the facial recognition will not become a political tool used to hound opposition members.


  1. tapiwa

    The editor and writer did not check the article for errors
    The Belt and Road Initiative is a is a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between”

    1. Farai Mudzingwa

      Tapiwa, thanks for the feedback had not seen that glaring omission but it has now been addressed

  2. @ad_maku

    This article is full of BS airports worldwide use facial recognition to weedout terrorists and criminals yet somehow this article chooses to focus on paranoia about human rights abuses. TechZim tikwanireiwo pliz.

    1. wamba dia wamba

      pane asingazive kuti mnangagwa had more than 20 years of misusing govt funds. he is a human rights abuser who will use this technology to undermine human rights

    2. MaraMechavio

      It’s the first time he has heard of it.And his objective is to sensationalise this issue to foster hatred of the Chinese by Zimbabweans.Anything done by government must be taken with a lot of suspicion in order to create momentum for the puppet party MDC-T.

      1. Farai Mudzingwa

        Yeah I’m not a political guy man, I was talking about past human rights abuses that I assumed were common knowledge to anyone who has lived in Zimbabwe… Our job is not to endlessly praise a product when it is launched but to have level-headed conversations weighing the pros and cons around these products…

    3. Farai Mudzingwa

      Lol! Yes airports use this system ‘worldwide’ as you say, but judging from prior human rights abuses in the country it would not be shocking if the systems are used for the wrong purposes… I did not say thats what it WILL be used for… Just that it MIGHT be used for such purposes

    4. Farai Mudzingwa

      The fact that human rights advocates also put a ban to the Police Cloud is a clear indication that these kind of tools can be used for other purposes which are unintended. Yes I may be paranoid but do you trust the authorities will use this type of technology respectfully? Well, I don’t!

  3. iTariro

    @techzim, BRI is much bigger than what this article purports, in fact I call BS if you even know what BRI is all about or the context with this article. You are also quick to judge on the human rights abuses and yet you didn’t even state where the Government even intends to use this technology or better yet it’s advantages. Airports worldwide use more advanced face, object and activity recognition tools, so this is no issue. First understand the use cases then judge, seems you didn’t bother doing your homework on this.

    Even in first world countries there are cameras on every street, they are for securty purposes and the citizens don’t even complain about human rights abuses.

  4. Chisora

    couldn’t agree more, these Techzim guys are dump

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