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Information and Communications Technology Bill on the cards
June 19, 2009
of pushing for the adoption of a unitary and independent regulation
of the telecommunications and broadcastings sector in Zimbabwe,
including recent high profile advocacy meetings with the Minister
of Information Technology and ICTs, Hon Nelson Chamisa, MISA-Zimbabwe
notes with interest recent announcement that a new Information and
Communications Technology Bill is in the offing. And that the proposed
new law would see the merging of the existing information and communication
laws and repealing of the Broadcasting
Services Act and Postal and Telecommunications Act being among
its major objectives.
The Bill provides
for the establishment of a converged communications authority called
the National Information and Communications Technology Authority
of Zimbabwe (Authority). This body is set to provide for the licensing
and regulation of telecommunications as well as broadcasting and
postal services. In addition, the Bill will also provide for the
facilitation and regulation of electronic communications and transactions.
The Bill also
envisages the repeal of the Postal and Telecommunications Act and
the Broadcasting Services Act. However, the Bill does not provide
for the repeal of the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) but proposes for its amendment.
shall exercise licensing and regulatory functions in respect of
information and communications services in Zimbabwe including the
determination of types and classes of licensees and the approval
process, tariffs and alterations thereto. It shall also allocate,
manage, review the frequency spectrum, as well as license the users
of the frequency spectrum including broadcasters and signal careers.
If enacted into
law the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) will cease to exist
as it will be superseded by the Authority which will assume all
the basic functions of the former body.
Section 60 sets
out the powers of the Authority and expressly states that the Authority
shall regulate broadcasting provision in the manner that it feels
will best meet the demand for broadcasting services. Licensing for
broadcasting services is provided for under section 61 which notes
that no person shall broadcast without a license except for the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation which shall be deemed licensed
under the Bill.
34, provision is made for frequency management by the Authority,
while section 35 deals with licensing in respect of the utilisation
of radio frequency. In terms of section 47, the Authority shall
also be the sole licensing body with regard to telecommunications
In terms of
section 62, pursuant to the applications for broadcasting license,
the Authority shall make sure that it issues broadcasting licences
in sufficient numbers to meet the public demand for broadcasting
services, and the process of issuing broadcasting licenses is set
Section 6 of
the Bill anticipates that the Authority shall be independent in
the exercise of its functions and subject only to the law. This
independence, however, appears to be compromised by the fact that
section 9 states that the Authority shall be tasked to implement
government policies relating to information and communications services,
a factor that would obviously dilute its autonomy.
Section 7 of
the proposed Bill provides for the manner of appointment of councillors
to the Authority and its composition. The authority shall consist
of not less than 5 members but not more than 9 members who are to
be appointed by the president on the recommendation of cabinet.
The major change in the appointment process lies in the fact that
it proposes public participation in the nomination process. The
Authority shall be headed by a Chief Executive Officer in terms
of section 15.
74 of the Bill provision is made for the licensing of those wishing
to venture into the business of postal services. Although no person
shall engage in this venture without being licensed, Zimbabwe Posts
(ZimPost) shall be deemed duly licensed under the Bill.
endorses the continued existence of the Interception
of Communications Act: Subject to the Interception of Communications
Act [Chapter 11:20].of (Act No. 6 of 2207) a person who intentionally
accesses or intercepts any data without authority or permission
to do so is guilty of an offence and liable to ...or a term of imprisonment
not exceeding 15 years.
The clear import
of this section is that whereas interception by an unauthorized
individual or other body is illegal, the same action is perfectly
legal or permissible when orchestrated by the government or such
other authorized body.
the MISA-Zimbabwe fact
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