What Chinamasa's appointment as Minister of Cyber Security means5 years ago
Patrick Chinamasa’s appointment as the new Minister of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation has been celebrated with memes, uncertainty and panic. The appointment of Chinamasa and the creation of this new ministry shows that Zanu-PF has realised the power of the internet and is doing something to either benefit from it or make sure that its opponents do not benefit from it. Here is what I think the creation of this new ministry means:
1. Government was serious about tightening social media
This comes as no surprise really considering the effect social media has had on Zimbabweans this year. In the past month alone, Zimbabwe has been sent into a frenzy due to fake news and sensational WhatsApp posts. Government blames social media for causing panic buying in September with the new minister who was Finance Minister at the time, threatening to tighten social media. At the time Chinamasa said:
The cause was social media, which means that it is a security issue. There is a political agenda, a regime change agenda. We are going to seriously look at what happened with a view to take corrective measures in the security arena. We need to understand social media and the forces behind it…….they have given us a timely warning about their intentions and clearly we will take the necessary measures to counter those nefarious activities.
2. The Cyber Crime and Computer Bill will be passed into law soon
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The last we heard about the Cyber Crime and Computer Bill it was at the Attorney General’s office. The Bill is now most likely to be passed into law before year end.
Under the proposed Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill Zimbabweans who are based in foreign countries face extradition and prosecution if they cause harm back home by “abusing” social media or any other computer based system. All those who “abuse” social media also face up to 10 years in prison while plagiarist websites which steal content from reputable publications face imprisonment for up to 5 years. These measures are contained in what was originally the Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill but has been “refined, upgraded” and renamed the Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill.
Chinamasa who is a lawyer, has been entrusted by President Robert Mugabe to lead the process of making sure that this bill is passed into law.