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Despite Objections, Harare Presses Ahead With Wiretapping Legislation

A senior Zimbabwe official said Wednesday that Harare is determined to press ahead with draft legislation that would allow auithorities to monitor phone calls and Internet communications, despite public hearing testimony from opposition politicians, media representatives, human rights groups and others that the bill should be scuttled.

Acting Information Minister Paul Mangwana said taht there was no turning back on the Interception of Communications Bill now before the ruling party-controlled parliament.

Members of the parliamentary committee on communications heard in public testimony Wednesday that the bill is unconstitutional and that the government should withdraw it. But security authorities, including officers of the military and the Central Intelligence Organization, testified that the legislation is vital to Zimbabwe's national security.

Media and Information Commission Chairman Tafataona Mahoso also backed the bill, saying that it is needed to prevent potential insurgency in the country.

Acting Information Minister Mangwana told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Harare is determined to move ahead to pass the bill.

For the opposition view, Blessing spoke with Jessie Majome, deputy secretary for legal affairs in the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai. She spoke against the legislation in the public hearing.

Speaking for Zimbabwe's Internet industry at today’s hearing was Jim Holland, system administrator of the Internet service provider Mango. Holland said the bill could force ISPs out of business as they will have to foot the cost for monitoring systems.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...