Harare – The government of Zimbabwe is speedily crafting new cyber terrorism legislation which will make criticism of Robert Mugabe and the government on Facebook, Twitter, or Whatsapp a criminal offence with a minimum penalty of 15 years in jail with hard labour sources have revealed.
This comes after social media protests about service delivery, corruption, and cash shortages in the country led to massive protests on the streets of all major towns and cities in the country, which ultimately led to riots, looting, and violent running battles between rioters and police.
Several activists have already been arrested by the country’s Criminal and Investigations Law and Order department for inciting violence, participating in violence, and inciting public violence. However, none of the arrested have been charged yet.
Earlier this afternoon, the younger brother of missing activist Itayi Dzamara, Dr Patson Dzamara was ambushed by police after visiting the Harare Central Police Station to deliver food to arrested journalists.
According to statements released by Dr Dzamara, police questioned him about the #ShutDownZimbabwe campaign which happened yesterday (06 July), and indicated to him that they had identified him, and Pastor Evan Mawarire as the leaders and inciters of the violence that rocked the country yesterday.
The country’s Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) had earlier on yesterday released a statement implying that it had capacities to spy over communications between citizens and stated that it would arrest and “deal severely” with activists who shared any material about public protests, among a litany of other things.
With Zanu PF enjoying a majority in parliament, it is expected that the party will expedite the proposed bill and enforce it into law as soon as possible as a means of stiffing the dissent and ending the riots.
The bill, should it be signed into law by Robert Mugabe would openly violate Zimbabwe’s present and newest constitution, which respects freedom of expression by art, speech, or form.
As it is, several activists arrested and charged with violating the Criminal and Codification Act Section 33 which criminalises “undermining and insulting the office of the President” have successfully appealed with the ConCOurt and had their charges dropped on the account that the law violates Section 61 of the constitution.