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MISA And Its Army Of Lawyers Agree With Us: The Order To Shutdown The Internet Was Not Lawful

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Early today we published our opinion on whether the internet shutdown was lawful or not. Econet’s Strive Masiyiwa claims that his companies were following a legal directive issued in terms of the law when they shutdown Zimbabwe’s internet.

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I could not disagree more, while it is true that Zimbabwe’s government forced Econet and others to shutdown the internet, despite the government’s lame claim that it was congestion, Mr Masiyiwa’s claim that this was done in terms of the law is of the law is just to put mildly is not true. The legal instrument Econet and allegedly its lawyers say the government used to shutdown the internet does not remotely allow for this.

We are not lawyers but a lot of lawyers including those from the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) agree with our reading of the law:

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16 January 2019

Attention: Honourable Minister Owen Ncube

Minister of State in the President’s Office for National Security
Chaminuka Building
5th Street
Harare

Dear Sir,

Re: WARRANT IN TERMS OF THE INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS ACT [CHAPTER 11:20] — SUSPENSION OF INTERNET SERVICES

1. We refer to the above matter and hereby write in that regard at the instance of our clients:
1.1. Columbus Mavhunga, and
1.2. Godwin Mangudya, and
1.3. Philemon Jambaya, and
1.4. ‘The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA),

who are all aggrieved by the ongoing nationwide internet shutdown in Zimbabwe.

2. The individuals listed above (Mangudya, Mavhunga and Jambaya) are Zimbabweans who are duly accredited journalists and whose profession heavily hinges on access to the internet. On the internet platform, these journalists access the information that is needed for them to effectively carry out their duties, and on the same platform they disseminate information in the form of news stories, features and other forms of journalistic output.

3. MISA is a local Trust duly registered in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe operating as a non-governmental organisation primarily to promote free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media, as envisaged in Section 61 of the Constitution Zimbabwe. Further they work to promote access to information in terms of Section 62 of the Constitution.

4. As stated in the aforegoing, our clients strongly object to the ongoing closure of all internet services, officially acknowledged through Econet Wirless (our client’s service provider) in a bulk SMS message sent out to clients this morning — Wednesday 16th January 2019. ln that message, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited announced thus:

“Further to a warrant issued by the Minister of State in the President’s Office for National Security through the Director General of the President’s Dept, acting in terms of the Interception of Communications Act, Internet Services are currently suspended across all networks and Internet Services Providers.

We are obliged to act when directed to do so and the matter is beyond our control. All inconveniences are sincerely regretted “

5. We have perused the Interception of Communications Act [Chapter 11:251 carefully and cannot find anything in that statute that would authorize such blanket interference with an essential means of communication in the manner you have proceeded.

6. In particular, our considered view is that the Act is applicable only as far as “listening, recording or copying” of telecommunication systems or radicommunicaton systems and “reading and copying” in respect of communications by post. It is our view that there is no provision in the Act that empowers the Minister to issue a blanket warrant that suspends/shuts down internet services throughout the country.

7. Such conduct is a clear violation of universal fundamental rights recognised by various Internation Law Instruments and in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, including the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the media, and the right of access to information.

8. In addition, it goes without saying that the ongoing nationwide shutdown of internet services has wider grave implications on Zimbabwean society in general, for example;

8.1. Schools cannot efficiently call back all their staff and pupils;
8.2. The banking system has been crippled and therefore people are unable to transact;
8.3. Businesses generally cannot transact;
8.4. The justice delivery system has been hampered; and
8.5. Our clients are unable to disseminate information essential to people’s safety and security, particularly in the context of the current situation as they have no access to their e-mails and other internet services.

9. As long as you, in your capacity as Minister, allow the unlawful warrant to stand with all access to e-mails and other Internet services blocked, the Government’s mantra that “Zimbabwe is open for business” would be significantly undermined.

10. In addition to being ultra vires the Act and the afore-mentioned rights, the nationwide shutdown of all internet services is in violation of section 68 (1) of the Constitution in that it amounts to administrative conduct which is not lawful, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantively and procedurally fair.

11. We now that the Act authorises you to revoke a warrant, and the present circumstances require that this be IMMEDIATELY done.

12. As a result of the afore-said, we have been instructed to demand, as we hereby do;

12.1. the immediate revocation of the warrant; and
12.2. a copy of the warrant, and
12.3. your written assurance that there will be no further shutdown/suspension of internet services.

13. We further advise that if the above is not done PROMPTLY, we have been instructed to proceed to institute legal proceedings without further notice to you.

Yours Faithfully

ATHERSTONE & COOK

CC – Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Limited

CC – The President’s Office (The Director General of the President’s Department)

CC – The Minister of Information, Communication and Technology

CC – Attorney General of Zimbabwe

 


Quick NetOne, Telecel, Africom, Econet Airtime Recharge

Econet WirelessConstitution of ZimbabweStrive Masiyiwa

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless International, is the first and largest mobile network services provider in Zimbabwe. The telecoms giant became popular with its products and services such as Buddie. It has established branches in different corners of the country and enjoys... Read More About Econet Wireless

The Constitution of Zimbabwe is the supreme law of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's latest constitution was voted for and approved in a referendum of 16 March 2013. Before the current constitution, Zimbabwe used a constitution negotiated at the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement as Zimbabwe... Read More About Constitution of Zimbabwe

Strive Masiyiwa (born 1961) is a Zimbabwean born entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder and chairman of Econet Wireless International a global telecommunications group. In 2002, Masiyiwa made it to the Time Magazine List of Most Influential People, and in March 2014, he was... Read More About Strive Masiyiwa


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12 thoughts on “MISA And Its Army Of Lawyers Agree With Us: The Order To Shutdown The Internet Was Not Lawful

  1. Strive’s a sellout too. I don’t know how much does he get from his criminal brothers by deceiving millions of his loyal customers of network. Actually he owes all d Econet customers. He must pay. So we see if he wud stand by his stupid excuse so called law.
    We know it’s all political games thy all play with pple’s lives. Its unfortunate we’re siting with a gvt of criminals who don’t care abt anyone except their pockets at d expense of d masses.
    We’ll continue to hope for a new Zimbabwe with a different leadership n it’ll come with d military bullying civilians door to door. Killing innocent people n threatening d economy. Which leads us to d nxt question.
    How does Strive Masiyiwa sponsor criminals who go around injuring n killing d same pple who supports his business? Does he make money from legitimate business or in association with criminals? How did he become a billionaire in a country that’s 98% unemployment with no manufacturing company in existence?
    Maybe we need to set a commission of inquiry to find out how did Zim billionaires made money in this dare situation.
    I mean even d gvt’s struggling to pay its employees. Gvt fails completely to provide basic services.

    1. Strive does not own telone, telecel and netone and africom,powertel and everyone else who shut down the internet.

  2. Go to hell you and MISA, the person who lost his life, or who lost his goods in their shops they had rights too, which were violated, so your right to write or access nonsense doesn’t override others Rights.

    1. Yeah right and this govt killed 6 civilians in cold blood on 1st Aug last year…..It’s a pity that those who voted back and support this bunch into office do not contribute a cent to its upkeep!! We’ll see how that pans out.
      Basically the feeding trough is now too small for the numeorus snouts …. and on the other end is a growing number of angry, hungry, desperate and daring citizens who have lost any hope or trust in those purportedly “in power” but powerless to make sensible simple decisions.

  3. I dont think it was fair to cc econet only , they r not the only mno in the country, netone, telecel telone everyone shut down

    1. Handisati ndaona munhu ane jerasi rakadai, ucharoya iwe.
      Campaign ,be an MP , go to parliament, make laws and change Potraz, its just like Zimra , rbz zera etc, its a statutory body,

      Don’t show your stupidity here,

    1. Let’s see how long this “peace and order” will hold against a backdrop of escalating prices, rising anger, hunger desperation and daring by citizenry!! Even soldiers and police need food, rest and bus fare?

  4. People outside Zimbabwe were posting messages that encourage violence. Even if it was chamisa who was in power he would have done the same thing

  5. Econet can i have my money back , i hv sbscrib my daily bundle the very day yu dsconect yo internet , without say anythng but wen t comes pakuti mukutengesa kwese yu daily call n sent us 1000 of masgs , return our mny

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