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Call to expedite Cyber Bill gets louder

By Daniel Chigundu
THERE are fears that the Parliamentary Privileges Committee report on death threat messages to MDC-T Members of Parliament (MPs) might be abused to introduce the Cyber Crime Bill.
After failing to locate the origin of the messages, The Privileges Committee recommended that there is need to expedite the process of bringing into the operation of the Cyber-crimes Bill, which should establish a Cyber Security Office, a Cyber-Crime Special Unit and a Ministerial Committee to deal with cyber-crimes.
According to the committee chairperson Chief Fortune Charumbira, the Bill should also be introduced in Parliament by September 2017.
The Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill is one of the Bills that President Robert Mugabe said will be tabled in Parliament in the current Fourth Session.
Debating on the report, Harare West legislator Jessie Majome said she was worried that the report might be abused to tighten freedom of speech in the country instead of focusing on protecting MPs.

Harare West legislator Jessie Majome
“It seems to me that the issue has now become one of lamenting how cyber crime is so difficult and that we must tighten cyber crime investigations.
“I am concerned that instead of taking measures to protect Honourable MPs from expressing and enjoying their political conscience, this report is going to be abused to actually tighten and curtail freedom of speech and access to information in Zimbabwe by saying that if the Cyber Crime Bill comes, everything will be fine,” she said.
The proposed Cyber Crime Bill, whose draft was circulated last year, is widely seen by many as government’s measure to close the country’s cyber space ahead of 2018 general elections.
Seasoned constitutional lawyer and People’s Democratic Party president Tendai Biti is also on record saying the proposed Bill was not relevant for countries such as Zimbabwe and that he will challenge its legality in the Constitutional Court.
Meanwhile, the Privileges Committee has also called for the amendment of the Postal and Telecommunications Act which they say is outdated and doesn’t reflect current situations.
“The Postal and Telecommunications Act must also be amended to reflect the technological changes around the globe and render certain actions as unlawful, for example in the matter before the Committee, the culprit unlawfully accessed the system.
“A bill proposing amendments to the Postal and Telecommunications Act must be brought to Parliament before the end of 2017. There is a need for legislation or bilateral agreements which enable the ease of access of information beyond the Zimbabwean borders.
“This is essential for the facilitation of cooperation between the police and prosecuting authorities in different countries. Ministry of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services should facilitate this by December 2017,” said the committee.

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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