Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
society rejects Interception of Communications Bill
Gladman Njanji, National Association of Non-Governmental
The civil society rejected the Interception
of Communications Bill citing its infringement of fundamental
human rights and contravening the Constitution of Zimbabwe section
20. The sector submitted its concerns at a Parliamentary Portfolio
on Transport and Communication Committee public hearing held on
Wednesday 30 August 2006 at the Parliament Building.
The Bill gazetted
in May 2006, seeks to "establish an interception of communication
monitoring centre whose function shall be to monitor and intercept
certain communications in the course of their transmission through
a telecommunication, postal or any other related services system".
This is coming
against a background of other repressive laws such as AIPPA,
others which severely restrict democratic space. There is a serious
danger of political abuse of the provisions of the Bill to target
political opponents of the government, or members of rival factions
of the ruling party. Human rights defenders and NGOs also would
seem to be at particular risk as they are already regarded in many
cases as being enemies of the state.
had the civil society and other stakeholders in the media and communications
industry agreeing on the need for the Bill to be rejected, withdrawn
or seriously amended before it is brought before the parliament
for debate. The Bill is not clear on what need to be monitored and
the reason for doing so. It contravenes the Constitution of Zimbabwe
section 20 which states that:
his own consent or by way of parental discipline, no person shall
in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, the
freedom to hold
opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without
the freedom from interference with correspondence."
Service Providers as law enforcers
if allowed to sail through, will force many Internet Service Providers
to close down, according to the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers
Association. The cost of buying the software and hardware components
needed to facilitate monitoring requires foreign currency that can
be used to acquire essential drugs for the health sector or import
raw materials to revive the fertilizer manufacturing plants.
The Bill will
also create an environment for passive law enforcement whereby unwilling
ordinary people such as service providers will be compulsorily conscripted
into law enforcement. The vagueness of some provisions in the Bill
were considered as extremely broad in scope such terms as "national
security", "national economic interests", or "interests of the country's
international relations or obligations".
Service Providers will not be able to assure their clients that
normal personal and business communications will be free from interception
and possible abuse, to the detriment of secure financial transactions
in particular. Private and confidential personal information, as
well as confidential commercial or financial information may be
intercepted that could be abused in many ways. The intrusion of
privacy between client and lawyer and between families was sighted
as other issues that need to be considered.
Bill violates the human rights of Zimbabweans and many international
Convention such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which
"No one should
be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family,
correspondence, or to attacks on his integrity or reputation. Everyone
has the right
to the protection of the law against such interferences or attacks."
some section of the Bill which it seeks to bring back were part
of the PTC Act, section 19 and 103, which was challenged and debunked
in the Supreme Court by the Lawyers Association of Zimbabwe.
of privacy will engender fear among the public, potential investors
and business sector. The Bill has to be considered in the national
context and its effects on the economic, growth and investor confidence
and its retardation of ICT development. It was the majority's
view that the Bill is a retrogressive of the President's
drive towards information technology development in the country
through his donation of computers. The prevailing challenges requires
laws that support telecommunication in order to boost investors'
confidence, support e-commerce which will promote economic and national
of judiciary supervision
other frightening development enshrined in the Bill is the shifting
of powers from the President to Chief of Defence Intelligence, Director-General
of the President's department responsible for national security,
Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police or Commissioner-General
of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority provides for the abuse of power.
It also makes no provision for judicial supervision thus taking
Zimbabwe backwards. In a democratic society, every person is entitled
to a fair hearing by an independent adjudicating tribunal established
by law in the determination of the existence or extent of his or
her rights and obligations. The Bill provides for judicial intervention
after the right has been violated and the loss has occurred. In
fact, it is clear that judicial review was meant to be entirely
- Monday 4 Septembers 2006 deadline
National Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (NANGO) is
highly appreciative of the role being played by the Parliamentary
Portfolios in creating democratic space within the country. It is
the sector's conviction that the Committee will consider
all the submissions from the concerned sectors which points to the
corrosive ramifications the Bill will have in Zimbabwe if passed
into law. There is no worse intrusion and violation of fundamental
rights than the monitoring and interception of e-mails, postal letters,
and other communications.
The Bill violates
the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, the right to privacy
and it contravenes sections of the Zimbabwean Constitution and other
international conventions. By the grace of God the Bill must be
stopped and civil society sector is urged to submit written submission
to the Parliamentary Portfolio on Transport and Communication Committee
by Monday 4 September 2006. Let us all play our part and stop the
birth of another draconian law whose acidic implication are catastrophic.
Visit the NANGO
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.