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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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bans bulk text messaging
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, Kubatana.net,
which makes extensive use of bulk text messaging to keep its subscribers
informed about contemporary events.
explained that its service provider, Econet, had informed them of
Potraz’s ban to block their service and all bulk messaging
by mobile phone.
the organization condemning the ban: “Kubatana.net 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. Kubatana.net 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.”
- Although Mugabe described the private media’s journalists
as being “blinded” by their own “mistakes”,
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
this observation unreservedly and, like MISA, calls on Potraz to
immediately rescind this anti-democratic and unconstitutional attempt
to gag the nation.
Visit the MMPZ
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