ZIMBABWE over the past few weeks was making headlines at an international level following its arrest of American Citizen Martha O’ Donavan for merely re-tweeting a Tweet that was deemed offensive and insulting to the person of the President and Commander in Chief, President Robert Mugabe.
Having created a Cyber Security, Threat detection and Mitigation ministry with a lot of emphasis on governing social media abuse in Zimbabwe, without proper statutes enacted to govern such abuse, this leaves many Zimbabweans flying blind as they do not know which laws, if any, they may be breaking with their social media usage.
By Michael Gwarisa and Pearson Mbendera
The cyber bill was drafted in 2015 but is still to be presented to the parliament to be passed and given the new social media threats, it still needs to be worked on before it gets passed.
With Hon Chinamasa given the task to head the cyber security ministry, his legal background is of importance to draft some new laws and speed up the process and wrap up the cyber security bill.
To begin with, WhatsApp, a popular social media network in Zimbabwe comes with end to end encryption that makes it impossible for the government to intercept any private messages users will send to each other.
This means that, should everything else fails, Zimbabweans can simply use WhatsApp to send and receive messages they do not want the government to read.
According to the 2nd quarter sector performance report published by POTRAZ, WhatsApp already make up over 40% of internet usage in Zimbabwe.
Secondly, Zimbabweans have rights and freedoms as expressed in the constitution, among them the right to freedom of expression, which seems to be infringed by the government in its quest to thwart what they term social media abuse as evidenced by the arrest of Martha O’Donovan.
It is important to note that no statutes enacted can supersede the constitution, thus, anything the government may come up with, will have to be in accordance to the constitution.
But despite the difficulties the government may face in the fight against social media abuse in Zimbabwe, it is important for them to wrap up the cyber security bill, including new laws that will govern social media use so that the people can be made aware of the laws they may be breaking in using social media.