Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe concerned with increased surveillance on citizens

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe has expressed worry over authorities’s elevated surveillance on residents following Justice Minister Kazembe Kazembe’s detailed narration of actions by three MDC youth leaders allegedly kidnapped by state security agents last month.

In an announcement Monday, MISA highlights it isn’t looking at Kazembe’s statements in isolation and cites Military commander Lieutenant-General Edzai Chimonyo’s statements in March the army will be “snooping into private communications.”

“The recent press statement released by the Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Kazembe Kazembe, on the alleged abduction of three MDC Alliance Activists Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova raised alarm on authorities surveillance of citizens,” Misa stated.

“In his statement, the Minister gave an in depth narration of the purported actions of the three abductees, which included their exact areas and instances on the day in query.

“And just lately, in March 2020, the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Commander Lieutenant-General Edzai Chimonyo, addressing senior army commissioned officers at the Zimbabwe Military Academy in Gweru, stated the army would soon begin snooping into private communications between private citizens to ‘guard towards subversion’ as social media has become a menace to nationwide security.”

In his post-cabinet briefing on the 21st of April 2020, stated the media rights lobby, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube indicated authorities used a sophisticated algorithm to select beneficiaries of its $180 Covid-19 pocket money.

Misa added, “A social media report additionally elaborated that the Finance Minister claimed that they checked out how much money is in your bank account, mobile pockets, and utilizing your cellphone number, discovered where you actually stay.

“What’s alarming is what seems to be a mixed operation of extreme use of private information, by private and non-private actors, authorities, and cellular network operators. This raises a number of problems with concern round information safety, surveillance and the right to privacy.”

MISA proposed an amendment to the Interception of Communications Act (ICA) that grants the state rights to snoop into non-public communications in issues that contain state safety.

Added the group: “MISA Zimbabwe takes note of the chain of occasions which have transpired in these previous couple of months in Zimbabwe, which appear to level to elevated attempts by the government to promote and entrench mass surveillance of citizens.

“The Executive’s access to private data of citizens, use and storage should be prescribed by legislation and through lawful procedures which are consistent with international human rights frameworks.

“MISA Zimbabwe, subsequently, reiterates that the Interception of Communications Act, enacted in 2007, must be reviewed and aligned with the 2013 Constitution. The Act infringes on the exercise of rights and isn’t in step with international human rights standards through various facets.”

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