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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles
of Communication Act (ICA) a threat to democracy!
in Zimbabwe Coalition
August 06, 2007
the special index on the Interception of Communications Bill
On Friday, 3 August 2007,
President Robert Mugabe signed yet another repressive and restrictive
act, the Interception to Communications Bill into law, amid fierce
contestations from civil society and the broader progressive forces.
The act gives the government through its administrative organs the
powers to intercept messages on email, post and telephones which
the state deems to be subversive. The enactment of the nefarious
bill into law raises fears that the government of Zimbabwe is likely
to revoke the Non Governmental Organisations bill which is aimed
at closing down the NGOs.
to Communications Act (ICA) forms part of the tools that the
government uses to crash the rights and freedoms of Zimbabweans.
The act is the latest and most fatal attack on democracy and joins
the class of the undertaker's tools that include the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public
Order and Security Act (POSA).
Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition is deeply perturbed by the continued closure of democratic
space in Zimbabwe. The act is aimed at striping off the citizenry's
rights of freedom of expression which are guaranteed by the Universal
Bill of Rights. This act is complemented by the proposed 18th
Constitutional Amendment which seeks to deny the populace the
right to vote, asserts ZANU PF's commitment to the establishment
of a de facto one party state.
Amongst other things,
the state would be granted the super powers to invade the privacy
of the citizenry through the state repressive machinery noted in
the Bill as the Chief of the Defense Intelligence, the Director-General
of the President's department of national security, the Commissioner
of the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Commissioner-General of
the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.
The AU in particular
called for the amendment or repeal of the above stated laws as they
have proved to be ultra vires the provisions of the Universal Bill
of Rights (UBR) such as the freedom to expression, association and
The ultimate end is a
heavy military and intelligence involvement in the civilian activities
alas in violation of the basic universal human rights. Given the
politicized nature of the police, army, Central Intelligence Organization
(CIO) and other organs that complement the state brutal rule, personal
security at household level is severely threatened. The government
will invade the citizenry's privacy through accessing the
e-mail, telephone calls, postal services and any other forms of
communication, messages obtained through such interceptions will
be interpreted by the state to mean anything.
The actions by the government
are divorced from the AU resolutions on the situation of human rights
in Zimbabwe, in Banjul, on the 5th of December 2005. The African
Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) resolution
number 4 states that:
Calls for the
government of Zimbabwe to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms,
association and assembly by repealing or amending repressive legislation,
such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
Services Act and the Public Order and Security Act.
It is also, against the
provisions of the African Charter for Human and People's Rights
(ACHPR) article 9 which maintains that everyone has the right to
receive information and may express them in any way they like about
any subject they choose.
This means that everyone
is allowed to tell others their opinions using any method they wish
(such as in conversations, speeches and letters or through newspapers,
radio, television, e-mails or the Internet), provided they do so
"within the law".
The Zimbabwean government
is therefore not allowed to impose restrictions against such freedoms
that are justifiable in a democracy.
The act is also in violation
of a Supreme Court judgment of 2004 that states that the sections
98 and 103 of the Posts and Telecommunications (PTC) Act were violating
section 20 of the constitution of Zimbabwe. The section clearly
outlines that any individual has the right to freedom of expression,
freedom to receive and impart ideas and freedom from interference
with one's correspondence.
As Crisis Coalition we
therefore deplore the motivation by the government of criminalising
the fundamental freedoms. The faith and sincerity in the act is
highly questionable. It is not meant to further the interests of
the country but of certain private political e interests.
Zimbabwe needs a new
democratic constitution on which free and fair elections will be
held to solve the current governance and legitimacy crisis.
Visit the Crisis
in Zimbabwe fact
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