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  • Interception of Communications Bill - Index of articles

  • Zim internet service providers struggle to buy spying equipment
    Nqobizitha Khumalo, ZimOnline
    August 10, 2007

    View the Index of articles on the Interception of Communications Bill

    BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association (ZISPA) says it is struggling to raise funds to buy intercepting equipment currently pegged at US$1 million each in a fresh huddle for the Harare authorities.

    President Robert Mugabe last week signed the controversial Interception of Communications Bill that allows state security agents to pry into private mail and electronic communications in what political analysts said was a sign of tightening of repression by the Zimbabwean leader.

    Under the new law, service providers who defy the law by failing to install the spying equipment face up to three years in jail.

    Shadreck Nkala, the ZISPA chairperson, said internet service providers were currently in a fix as they could not afford to buy and install the spying equipment as required under the new law.

    Nkala said service providers were not in position to buy the equipment anytime soon because of the prohibitive cost adding that virtually all of them will be pushed out of business if they were asked to buy the equipment without government support.

    "If we have to remain in business, we need to look at what costs we will incur and how the equipment will be financed. The government has to be realistic.

    "There is need for a mutual relationship between the government and the service providers because we would all need state-of-the-art equipment which is very expensive," said Nkala.

    Nkala said the Zimbabwe government, which is battling its worst economic recession that has seen inflation zoom past the 4 500 percent mark last May, would need to pay out more to finance the buying of the spying equipment.

    "The government has to contribute funds the equipment. We have engaged Potraz and the Ministry of Transport and communication on the matter and they have to play a role as well.

    We will meet with government soon to chart the way forward," he said.

    Transport and Communications Minister, Chris Mushowe, could not be reached for comment on the matter.

    Zimbabwe human rights groups have criticised the new interception law arguing that the Zimbabwean government will use the legislation to further emasculate the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leaders and other government critics.

    The Zimbabwe government denies the charge insisting the new law is in line with international trends to fight terrorism and ensure national security. - ZimOnline

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