By Michelle Muchina
Creatives in the country say the Cyber Bill which is yet to be gazetted but whose principles were approved by Cabinet at its 35th meeting should go a long way in creating more room for expression.
Although the Bill which has been talked about since the time of the late President Robert Mugabe is reportedly seeking to promote the safe use of the internet, Zimbabweans are however sceptical and view the move as a ploy to restrict use of the cyberspace in the country.
The scepticism emanates from how the government has continuously expressed displeasure at how the internet has been used to mobilise for demonstrations, stay-aways and also sharing messages which are deemed to be denigrating the state.
For its part government also showed its ruthless side when it shut down internet in January during a stay-away called for by ZCTU as a way of protecting itself from attacks especially on social media.
Since then a lot of people have been arrested, beaten or abducted across the country allegedly for crimes committed using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Lucky Aaron producer at BUSTOP TV said he is expecting that the Bill will “support the right to expression and also give creatives more room to put their content online to promote engagement and dialogue,” he said.
Aaron added that “cyberbullies hackers and trolls should be punished severely, online crimes should be really dealt with,” he said.
The BUSTOP TV producer also revealed that he was disappointed that government does not take online platforms seriously adding that the case in which popular comedian Samantha “Gonyeti” Kureva was abducted and beaten is yet to be investigated.
“Government does not take online systems seriously and there was no investigation concerning Gonyeti’s case, at least they should make an effort.”
Speaking on the same topic Enqore Mlilo from Nafuna TV said there is a need for clarity on who is being protected by the Bill adding that it must also address issues of licencing.
“Who is the Bill meant to protect, does it protect companies like Nafuna TV?
“Oftentimes people in the same industry for example like BUSTOP TV they sometimes come across opinions which say they should stop their activities because they have no licences,” he said.
Enqore added that it is high time that the government use the Cyber Bill to licence such things as YouTube Broadcasting.
“I also think that YouTube should be granted the rights to broadcast in Zimbabwe and an agreement should be made between Zimbabwe and YouTube.
“The Cyber Bill should be clear on what and who constitutes content and how does the Bill protect me as a youngster,” he said.