Wednesday 5 April 2023


ZIMBABWE is among several African countries that lack free access to the internet due to government snooping, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has revealed.

Over the years, many African governments have resolved to censor a variety of apps and sites, especially around election time.

The organisation, its latest report, states that internet surveillance has been instituted in, for instance, Zambia and Zimbabwe to target and persecute prominent civic society leaders, opposition leaders and other dissenting voices.

The report titled: Digital Rights are Human Rights: An introduction to the state of affairs and challenges in Africa, FesMedia, a subsidiary of Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung in Africa said a large chunk of African countries were repressive with regards to internet access.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, 495 million people (46% of the population) subscribed to mobile phones in 2020, however, the cost of accessing the internet is very high and many African governments are renowned for restricting access to the internet to limit critics and their opposition through internet shutdowns, especially ahead of elections,” the report read.

“There is widespread government surveillance in many countries in Africa without sufficient legal basis. In Zimbabwe, for example, the interception of private communications is permitted without a warrant issued by a court; instead, the Transport and Communication minister has the power to order such surveillance.”

The report said authoritarian governments in a number of African countries have blocked or filtered citizens’ access to the internet for various periods of time, and for very similar reasons, usually the protection of ‘national security’.

“Technically, this is relatively easy for governments to do: not by pushing their own ‘stop’ button, but by ordering internet service providers to suspend internet connectivity as a whole or block certain websites or apps, for example, the Zimbabwean government ordered the largest telecommunications company in the country to shut down all internet services.

“The surveillance of internet communications seems to be a considerable temptation for some African governments again because it is such an easy and effective way to keep track of the mood and concerns of the people, especially those critical of the government,” the report added.

Zimbabwe continues to experience extensive gagging of critical voices that call for transparency and accountability. Newsday


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