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Kubatana objects to blocking of SMS information service
Kubatana.net

July 25, 2013

Kubatana.net 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.

Kubatana.net believes 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.

Visit the Kubatana.net fact sheet

Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.

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