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objects to blocking of SMS information service
July 25, 2013
is a media and information project situated in Zimbabwe. It was
established to broaden citizens’ access to information with
the aim of inspiring conversations and dialogue on community, social
and political issues. Kubatana.net uses a variety of new and traditional
media to communicate with our various audiences. Our project has
been the recipient of many awards, most recently the Google, Reuters
and Global Voices award for advancing the cause of online free expression.
Kubatana.net is continuously
innovating in the area of social media. Noting the growing popularity
of mobile phones as a communication device, we regularly send short
text messages (SMS) to people who have chosen to subscribe to our
information service. Our service is an 'opt-in' list which means
that at no time do we send out any spam messages. We engage a robust
administrative procedure that adds members when they ask to join,
and we unsubscribe people when they ask to leave the list.
Kubatana.net has been
sending out bulk text messages to our audience over the last several
years without experiencing any outside interference or jamming of
our system. However in the run up to Zimbabwe's 2013 Election our
ability to send bulk text messages has been blocked. We have been
informed by Econet that their regulator, POTRAZ, has issued a directive
blocking the delivery of bulk messages from international gateways.
Kubatana.net's text messages
vary in content from providing our members with news headlines,
quotations and proverbs, Internet links to interesting stories as
well as questions about the political landscape that we ask for
their opinion on. Our most constant reminder to our audience is
to question, rather than just follow a leader.
POTRAZ is acting unconstitutionally, and will be contacting POTRAZ
and the Ministry of Transport, Communication and Infrastructural
Development about this issue. Zimbabweans have a right to receive
and impart information, as enshrined in the Constitution's guarantee
of the right to freedom of expression. Kubatana.net views the interference
in our work as obstructive, repressive and hostile. It is our opinion
that as we approach the July poll the Zimbabwean authorities are
increasing their control of the media, making the conditions for
this election unfree and unfair.
Even while we
experience this unacceptable interference in our work, Kubatana.net
remains committed to finding and using innovative ways to circumvent
government control and to stay in contact with our subscribers,
who would expect nothing less from us.
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