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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Daily Election Report - Issue 12
    The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
    July 26, 2013

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    Potraz bans bulk text messaging

    Only NewsDay reported the extraordinary decision by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to ban the transmission of all bulk text messages via mobile phones until after the July 31 elections.

    The paper quoted the online human rights and information project,, which makes extensive use of bulk text messaging to keep its subscribers informed about contemporary events.

    The organization explained that its service provider, Econet, had informed them of Potraz’s ban to block their service and all bulk messaging by mobile phone.

    NewsDay reported the organization condemning the ban: “ believes Potraz is acting unconstitutionally…Zimbabweans have a right to receive and impart information, as enshrined in the constitution’s guarantee of the right to freedom of expression. views the interference in our work as obstructive, repressive and hostile.”

    All three dailies reported President Mugabe taking a swipe at the private media for carrying reports raising concern over the feasibility of staging the July 31 polls successfully. He insulted the private media and linked them to the MDC when he said: “They say Mugabe rushed us to polls, yet we do not have a Parliament. That is the MDC and their stupid supportive media.”

    MMPZ comment - Although Mugabe described the private media’s journalists as being “blinded” by their own “mistakes”,


    Highlight of the day as the election countdown enters its final few days was the extraordinary news that the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) had imposed an arbitrary ban on the transmission of all bulk text messages until after the elections (see ‘Media’ section in the print section of this report).

    Bulk text messaging by several civic organizations has served as an important source of contemporary information for thousands of ordinary people in recent months. But this repressive move by Potraz clearly violates Zimbabweans’ constitutional rights to receive and impart information without hindrance and will deprive large sections of the electorate of the opportunity to be informed about current events.

    Such a blatant violation of Zimbabweans’ right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in the new constitution just a few days before national elections, places Potraz at the centre of a controversy that will certainly contribute to undermining the credibility of those elections.

    In a comment condemning Potraz’s ban, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe) observes that “this cowardly fear of the free flow of information is a stark reminder of the fact that the credibility of these elections should not only be measured against the prevailing peaceful environment, but a range of freedoms available to Zimbabweans to make informed choices as enunciated in the new constitution’s Bill of Rights and regional protocols on the conduct of democratic elections”.

    MMPZ endorses this observation unreservedly and, like MISA, calls on Potraz to immediately rescind this anti-democratic and unconstitutional attempt to gag the nation.

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