A parody of government notice hit social media as soon as President Robert Mugabe announced that he had a new Ministry responsible for Cyber security, Threat detection and prevention.
The people in Zimbabwe, reacts with the usual Humor, to the letter, forged the signature and letterhead of the newly appointed cyber-minister, Patrick Chinamasa and meadow view all the WhatsApp group members register with the Ministry in November.
The letter was signed “By The Cyber powers In Me.”
But the jokes have subsided since then, and the people in Zimbabwe are now to consider what the new Ministry means for the civil liberties, particularly the freedom of speech.’A threat to the state”
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By using platforms such as Twitter and Facebook organized a stay-at-home demonstration, the largest anti-government protest in a decade.
President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba said Mr Mugabe came up with the idea, a new Ministry to a “new threat for the state… a threat founded on the abuse and illegal behaviour”.
Social media might use the primary platform for the people in Zimbabwe, in order to communicate and receive messages. It is thriving in spite of restrictive legislation, the freedom of expression.
In the last 16 years, internet usage in the country has shows a 0.3% penetration 46%, data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Several TV stations and online publications, some from the diaspora, make use of the internet for the dissemination of messages outside of the reach of the government.
If the tank ran out of fuel, in the last month, there were dramatic scenes of long queues at the supermarket checkout, as the people covers in Zimbabwe, anticipate food scarcity.
Alarmed by these events, the government made social-media-news for the spread of panic.
“Were in need of social media abuse, a feeling of panic, resulting in a kind of destabilization in the economy,” said Mr Charamba.
The new cyber security minister, Mr Chinamasa, to be true. He commented at the time, prior to his appointment, that “the matter was in fact social media”.
“It means, it is a question of safety,” he adds. “It is also a political agenda, the regime change agenda. We are looking to what exactly happened, with a view to corrective measures in the security arena.”‘Muzzling’ Opinion
But others say that the attitude of the government is a threat to civil liberties.
Communication rights group says Zimbabwe Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa), this new control of social media goes against the spirit of the Constitution and the freedom of expression.
“These unfortunate threats have resulted in self-censorship, the [persons], if we look at the current problems of the country,” it said in a statement.
He also criticized the censorship of the Zimbabwean media,” which comes on occasion, been chastised for the inclusion of citizen opinion expression online in their reportage”.How African governments block social media
Going a step further, Zimbabwe’s opposition movement for Democratic change (MDC) says the government’s new cyber threat, the Ministry is a means for the government to spy on its people.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai also of the opinion that the Ministry was created, – free curbside speech in time for the 2018 polls.
“Mugabe… will do what it takes to control and muzzle social media, to suppress public discontent against his regime,” he said.
“But the good news is that the regime has no capacity to suppress the use of social media.”
Many of the people in Zimbabwe, responded sarcastically to the news of the creation of a cyber-minister, referring to Mr Chinamasa as the “Minister for WhatsApp”.
At the end of the Twitter post of @CynicHarare
At the end of the Twitter post of @Reagan mashavave
Some say that the ridicule shows a lack of understanding about the global threats of cyber-crime.
At the end of the Twitter post of @Letty_Mabhena
Others see a link between the government, the control of the online communication and the forthcoming elections.
At the end of the Twitter post of @DougColtart
Zimbabwe already has several pieces of legislation, where rights groups say curbing the freedom of expression.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, says that since 2010, it has arrested more than 100 people, under a law that makes it a jailable offence of “insulting the President” and “undermine his authority”.
Ordinary people were arrested and accused for calling the 93-year-old leader of the “old”, “a donkey” and even accused him ruin the country.
The Zimbabwean government has said, to stifle the new legislation, the freedom of expression and protection of the public against new threats such as revenge pornography, and cyber-attacks.
Presidential spokesman, Mr. Charamba says Zimbabwe will look carefully at how other Nations have become with the threat of cyber crime, including Russia, China, and South Korea, “the same challenges”.Arrests?
While several countries around the world-anti-cyber crime departments and agencies, Zimbabwe is one of the first to have a whole Ministry.
Meanwhile, on social media, ominous warnings have begun circulating.
Is of a “Mr. Chaipa”, the insistence of the people in Zimbabwe only to share content on social media that you would be able to defend it in court.
Mr. Chaipa said, it was easy for the government to monitor online news, and a list of online activities that are classified as criminal offences.
“In the coming months, a lot of people will be arrested, and as the examples used to deter people from ‘abuse’ of social media, that the elections,” he warns. “Not an example to be made.”