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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Freedom on the Net 2013: Zimbabwe report
    Freedom House

    October 03, 2013

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    Zimbabwe has witnessed an upsurge in internet use, and despite the country’s recent history of political instability and economic volatility, the past two years have seen a sizeable investment in the ICT sector, which had largely been stagnant over the previous decade. In 2012 and early 2013, access to ICTs remained nominally free from direct government interference with the exception of the July 2013 elections period, though the relative openness is more likely due to a lack of resources to affect control than a lack of intention.

    As Zimbabwe’s internet community, both local and in the diaspora, has become more assertive in discussing socioeconomic and political issues online, the Zimbabwean African National Union– Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) ruling party under President Robert Mugabe has become increasingly concerned about the internet’s ability to mobilize political opposition, particularly the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) under Morgan Tsvangirai. Accordingly, Zanu-PF officials made several public demands to stop what it calls the “abuse” of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in 2012.6 Meanwhile, two citizens were arrested in the past year for sending text messages on their mobile phones that allegedly insulted the president.

    Zimbabwe’s new constitution was enacted in May 2013, giving freedom of expression a boost both on and offline through its provisions on freedom of the press, access to government information, as well as protection for sources of information. Such guarantees, however, are likely to be nominal, given the ruling party’s trend of taking extralegal actions against Zimbabwean citizens. Further, state security officials continue to have the authority to monitor and intercept ICT communications at will, and an investigative report revealed in early 2013 that Zimbabwean security agencies have been receiving cyber training assistance from Iranian intelligence organizations since 2007.

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