FORMER Information and Communication Technology minister Nelson Chamisa has accused Zanu PF of trying to shut Zimbabweans out of the information super-highway by using high prices ahead of the 2018 general elections just to maintain its grip on power.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
In a statement yesterday, Chamisa said the recent sharp data tariff hikes were Zanu PF’s way of trying to control access to information by pricing internet access and telecommunications out of reach ordinary citizens.
“As the 2018 general election draws near, the nation must prepare for more drama, as government presses more panic buttons amid growing disenchantment,” he said.
Chamisa, also MDC-T vice-president, said the shocking increase of mobile data prices would stifle exchange of information and retard innovation in the country.
“The setting of a floor price will stifle innovation in the telecommunications sector and put the burden of reduced revenue on the consumer by making citizens pay more for data services,” he said.
However, with all fingers being pointed at the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), it has emerged that telecommunications players have requested for dialogue over the issue. There is growing public anger against the price increases that have been described as politically-motivated in the wake of anti-establishment sentiments on social media.
Minutes of a meeting held by the Telecommunications Operators’ Association of Zimbabwe on October 17 show that operators wanted the price raised to 5 cents.
However, in a Facebook post, Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa said he was against the setting of floor prices because it made it difficult for him to introduce mobile television.
Zimbabwe Online Content Creators, a voluntary association, has called on Potraz to reconsider its move saying it was a clear violation of the Constitution, which guarantees access to information and freedom of expression. The group threatened a mass boycott if its concerns are not addressed.