The government is mulling ways of policing internet usage following President Robert Mugabe’s call that there is need to implement measures to control social media to minimize rampant abuse of the web.
Several people have been arrested for sending or receiving messages and images that are deemed abusive of the president.
Added to this, WhatsApp, a popular instant messaging application, has encrypted its services, meaning that the government cannot snoop into people’s conversation.
Just after landing at the Harare International Airport from Japan recently, Mr. Mugabe applauded the Chinese for putting measures that curb internet abuse.
China is known as the world’s greatest abuser of press freedom and has cracked down heavily on Internet users, banning the use of Twitter and Facebook and replacing it with its own versions.
Information Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said it was only those who abused the media who were afraid of the planned measures.
“Well, the government is working out methods of promoting social media by making sure that those who abuse social media are penalized,” he said.
He added that government is actually promoting the use of social media and President Mugabe deplored those who abuse it.
Studio 7 also reached the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent, Dumisani Muleya, who said the government’s plans are misplaced.
“Basically, for us it marks an authoritarian agenda reminiscent of old school leadership. We do not need government in that sector. Government’s job should be to develop infrastructure so that we have fast broadband Internet,” he said.
Muleya noted that it was improper for a government to censor information because people should have the freedom to share information.