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The Zimbabwean Government Plans to Restrict Social Media Use with a Cyber Crime Bill

The Cyber Crime Bill of 2019 was recently passed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

This past Tuesday, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his cabinet passed the controversial Cyber Crime, Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill in what they say is an effort to "protect the country's cyber space", according to Quartz Africa. While the Bill has not been made law as yet, it aims to monitor Zimbabweans' use of social media platforms including WhatsApp, Twitter and FaceBook and penalize those who are disseminating "offensive" material. However, many are convinced that the Bill is politically motivated and an attempt to censor what kind of information leaves the country.


Back in January of this year, hundreds of Zimbabweans took part in a nationwide shutdown where they protested crippling fuel hikes which had been announced by Mngangagwa. The government subsequently stopped access to the internet. More recently, supporters of the opposition party MDC under the leadership of Nelson Chamisa, were beaten by the police after they took part in a protest that had been banned by the Zanu-PF-led government. In both instances, and in several other protests, images, videos and updates were circulated by Zimbabweans on social media. At least half of internet use in the country happens through WhatsApp, according to Yahoo! Finance.

In the same way that the governments of Sudan, Egypt, Benin and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have restricted internet access during protests and civil unrest, many believe the government it attempting to criminalize the spreading of information that they may not want the international community to know.

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