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Cyber Bill to undergo amendments

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Government is set to make amendments to the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill after it acceded to reservations expressed on some clauses during debate in the National Assembly last week.

Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Jenfan Muswere said he will look at the clauses which raised concern from legislators with a view to adjust them.

He said the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe remained as the best placed to deal with cyber security and data protection and will not acceded to calls for the removal of that role as suggested by lawmakers.

In his response, Minister Muswere acceded to relook at Clauses 13, 17, 23 and 164 of the Bill with a view to amend them.

Section 164 criminalizes the sending of data messages to any person, group or the public with the intention to incite violence or damage of property.

The clause provides for the imposition of a fine not exceeding level 10 or imprisonment of up to five years.
In his submission, Binga North MP Mr Prince Sibanda (MDC Alliance), who has since been recalled by MDC-T, said the level of liability that the Bill placed on a person, given the heavy sentence, was a strict liability where an offence is created by simply sending a message notwithstanding that there might be no criminal intent.

“In my view, Hon Speaker, we need to cure this clause,” he said. “We can cure it either by reducing the punishment that is proposed to something that is lesser or else we put in more measures to ensure that the burden of proof on the part of the State becomes as heavy as possible.”

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