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SMS exposé: Snooping for political ends
Muzulu, The Independent (Zimbabwe)
August 16, 2013
of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife, Elizabeth’s
private correspondence to an alleged lover last weekend further
exposed President-elect Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF’s abuse
of state security apparatus to target their opponents for political
expediency, analysts have said.
of the electronic correspondence, the analysts said, shows the level
of abuse of the security sector even in circumstances that do not
threaten national security.
incident reinforces the notion that Mugabe and his cabal have all
along kept his perceived enemies under close watch, evoking the
chilling memories contained in George Orwell’s futuristic
that the state was going to be “big brother” who watches
everything and knows everything the citizens are doing.
in one of his addresses said the state was watching everyone.
The latest incident
is akin to the fugitive United States Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelation that the US
was snooping into private citizens’ e-mails, Skype, GoogleTalk,
Yahoo! Messenger and all mobile phone correspondence in its security
programme - Prism.
difference between Prism and the Zimbabwean-style is that private
information frequently ends up being used by Mugabe and Zanu-PF
to settle personal and political scores.
Mugabe on the
other hand relies on the Interception
of Communication Act to bug into all electronic communication
between any two persons.
In the past,
the state has used personal correspondence between Finance minister
Tendai Biti and a senior staffer in his office in a matter related
to abuse of foreign travel allowances in the ministry.
In this instance,
text messages between the two were published in state newspapers.
case is that of Archbishop Pius Ncube - a trenchant critic of Mugabe
- who was exposed in a compromising position with a woman. The tapes
were later played on national television forcing Ncube to resign
from his position in the church.
Ricky Mukonza said the revelation of messages between Elizabeth
and Kenny Ngirazi was unwarranted since this was not a national
is a private matter which has no national security significance.
In fact, the story shows how the state is contravening individual
rights to privacy,” Mukonza said.
electronic surveillance was, however, acceptable if it relates to
is done to protect national security that is acceptable, however,
if it goes beyond the boundaries to touch on personal details of
no national or global significance then that would constitute a
violation of any individual’s right to privacy,” Mukonza
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