FORMER Information Communication Technology (ICT) minister Supa Mandiwanzira (Nyanga South MP) yesterday claimed that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was the most abused person on social media while justifying the need to pass the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Mandiwanzira made the remarks in Parliament soon after ICT minister Jenfan Muswere and his deputy Dingumuzi Phuti had made a presentation on the Bill before the ICT Parliamentary Portfolio Committee.
Among other issues, the Bill seeks to deal with abuse of social media through spreading of falsehoods, bad pictures and information that impairs the reputation of others, pornographic material, revenge pornography, computer fraud and other crimes related to the use of computers.
“It is a very good Bill in that it will ensure that people are made to account for what they post on social media because a lot of negative and hostile things have been posted about President Mnangagwa without evidence,” Mandiwanzira said.
“This law will protect anyone from opposition to Zanu PF. We must all be protected and we must also be able to protect Mnangagwa because a lot of people lie about him and they should be made accountable for that.”
Mandiwanzira also said that people with business and political enemies were also suffering a lot of negativity posted about them on social media.
“Someone can just post a picture of an MP saying that they have been sleeping with people’s wives in the constituency and yet that information might not be true.
“There are also instances where former lovers that are ditched can post revenge pornography and spread naked pictures of a former (lover) who is now married. Such things have destroyed a lot of people and have even resulted in suicide.”
Makonde MP Kindness Paradza said the Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill must not infringe on the rights of the media given that laws like the Freedom of Information Act have since been abused before to impinge on media freedom.
He said the international community, during re-engagement, had emphasised media freedoms.
But Beitbridge East MP Albert Nguluvhe said the country should consider its own security first, adding that even the United States and Britain always put their own security first.
Main opposition MDC Alliance MPs Jacob Nyokanhete (Masvingo Urban), Happymore Chidziva (Highfield West) and Shakespear Hamausva (Warren Park East) said the Bill should not infringe on the rights of Zimbabweans to adapt to new ICT technology.
“The Bill must be clear on how it will deal with whistleblowers who use social media in assisting with information to deal with corruption,” Chidziva said.
Muswere said the Bill would protect citizens against abuse through social media and other cyber-related crimes.
“The Bill does support technological advancements,” Muswere said.
“It will also deal with issues of spreading pornographic material to children, inciting violence or sending threatening messages to people, cyber-bullying and other forms of harassment and transmission of falsehoods on social media. The Bill does not affect freedom of information.”
Nkulumane MP Kucaca Phulu said countries like South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius and the Western world already had such laws.
He said section 31 of the Bill dealt with issues of whistleblowers, but added that whistleblowers are also involved in other issues not related to cyber-crime and, therefore, might not be covered at great length by the Cyber Security and Data Protection law.