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Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
Oscar Nkala, The Zimbabwean
May 06, 2005
- In a desperate bid to control the flow of independent information
in and out of the country, the increasingly paranoid government
of Robert Mugabe, has acquired sophisticated phone tapping, radio
jamming and internet monitoring equipment from China.
The equipment has been handed over to its dreaded spy agency, the
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in an effort to block the
circulation of what it alleges is hostile propaganda from foreign
based radio stations and cyber-space.
radio station based in the UK, SWRadio Africa, has been experiencing
jamming problems from two transmitters near Gweru since before the
the CIO told The Zimbabwean that the deal also involved the importation
of upgraded Chinese copies of Soviet-era air-borne radar systems
for the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) and a few ground-based radar
is on the way, as government feels there is a need to counter hostile
propaganda coming through cyberspace. I cannot tell you about the
budget but it will cost trillions," said the source, who added
that Chinese instructors and technicians had trained CIO agents
in operating and maintaining the equipment.
In China, the
government of President Hu Jintao, a hard-line Communist keen to
return the old order, has apparently intensified a crackdown on
the use of mobile phones and the internet for the circulation of
anti-Communist propaganda and the promotion of what it sees as Western-style
freedom of the press and human rights issues.
In a move that
parallels Zimbabwe's programme of re-education in schools and youth
camps, students in China were recently ordered to take more Communist
Theory classes in line with what the regime calls "ideological
education" according to the New York Times.
acquisitions allegedly include smaller, less visible high-tech bugging
equipment that is more difficult to detect. Minute omni-directional
recorders with enhanced long ranges at ultra-high frequencies have
also been ordered and can be useful for snooping on meeting sites
from a safe distance.
The source refused
to explain how the new phone bugging equipment works but confirmed
that it included updated versions of pirated, Israeli-made equipment
sourced through Cuba.
the CIO intends to use most of the equipment to snoop on the internet,
widen the taping of landlines and cell-phones of opposition figures,
State and private media journalists suspected of working for foreign
media, as well as opposition and public opinion leaders - regardless
of whether they are pro or anti-government.
of widening the net is to sense new threats to the present order,
as most of the known opposition, particularly the MDC and tribal-based
hooligans like Paul Siwela have been neutralized.
now scanning the horizon for fresh signs of political opposition
and other threats to national security. At the same, time we are
countering and daily reducing the misleading effect of anti-Zimbabwe
propaganda from radio stations and internet-based organizations
outside the country. Government wants to win the cyber-war and the
results have been pleasing so far," said the source.
Part of the
strategy in the cyber-space war was to use CIO "case officers"
and Zanu (PF) activists disguised as students at universities all
over the world. The source said one such case officer, who formerly
operated from the Matabeleland South office of CIO, had been deployed
to a university in southern Portugal in mid-2003 as part of efforts
to re-orient world student opinion on the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Efforts to contact
State Security minister Didymus Mutasa for comment were fruitless.
A secretary at his office said the minister was away and would not
have the time to take the call even if he were there.
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