Minister of Information and Communication Technology Nelson Chamisa has urged Zimbabweans to register their mobile phone sim-cards saying there was no need to be suspicious of the intention.
Many Zimbabweans have been reluctant to go through the registration process which requires people to submit their personal identities, residential addresses and other personal details because of a phobia created by the country’s volatile political past.
“People should not be scared – it’s a global trend and an international pattern that took place even in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria,” he said.
“We are trying to bring down uncultured behaviour and remarks that brings a state of insecurity and fear among citizens. The cyberspace and technology has been abused by fraudsters and criminal elements and we want to avoid that,” said Chamisa.
“It’s a way to make sure that cell phones are not used as a tool for criminality but business issues. We will use this to trace threats and defamatory elements. More importantly we want to use this for the security of the people.”
Chamisa said there was greater misconception in the political circles that national security was for the state not for the people.
“National Security is for the people not the state. It’s an issue of dealing with people’s security and people should not be afraid of registering their lines,” he said.
Media reform activists on Tuesday had express fears that the registration of sim-cards was tantamount to infringing on people’s freedoms.
Media activist Takura Zhangazha said people should not voluntarily forward themselves to monitoring and be under surveillance.
“I vowed that I will never have my line registered whatever the consequences and for that, l will not volunteer to be monitored,” he said.
But Chamisa said there was no need to panic and giving the sim-cards a name was fundamental.
Only 25% of subscribers have so far registered their phone lines as the initial deadline of August 31 lapsed on Tuesday.
Chamisa said there was no need for Zimbabweans to be “ICT phobic” and urged the nation to brace up for an ICT bonanza by end of this year.
“People will be on google, facebook and chat on the phone and this is a promise that will not fail,” he said.