Biti declares war on Mandiwanzira over ICT Bill

By Daniel Chigundu

Seasoned lawyer and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Tendai Biti says he is going to fight the proposed ICT Bill arguing that it is bent of infringing on the people’s constitutionally given rights.

ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira has reportedly drafted an ICT Bill which seeks among other things to regulate how people will use social media in the country.

It is widely believed that the Bill will not only prevent social media abuse but also restrict its use, which is said not to be in line with the country’s new constitution.

Speaking at a press conference Biti said he will fight the Bill in court adding that he is confident of victory as the Bill is in a poor state.

“On the Bill, the proposed ICT Bill, I have had a look at the Bill produced it’s a poorly drafted copy and paste document plagiarised from Lesotho.

“I have absolutely no doubt that it has not gone through the office of the Attorney General, I have absolute no doubt about that, but the point is no one has got a right to infringe on a constitutionally given right to freedom of communication, to freedom of expression, to freedom of speech.

“And the new Zimbabwe constitution which we have is unique, for the first time it has another freedom, the freedom of the media. I consider the right to communicate as part of human dignity, its part of our own dignity that we able to communicate in the way we are able to do.

“There are two rights in the Zimbabwe constitution which cannot be infracted number one, it’s the right to dignity, and number two the right not to be subjected to torture, so I don’t believe that a Constitutional Court will uphold an infraction on the right to human dignity, right to communication, which is why I stated that there would be a legal challenge upon an attempt to encroach on our values and our rights.

“There are certain countries with these Bills, but these countries have unique circumstances, the challenges of global terrorism, we don’t have Boko Haram in Zimbabwe, we don’t have Al Shabab in Zimbabwe, so the justification for a similar type of legislation in Zimbabwe is not there.

“You cannot stop people who are simply saying we don’t want Mugabe; we don’t want Zanu PF that’s different from bombing cars and from bombing churches so we will fight that Bill,” he said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Renewal Democrats president Elton Mangoma said the attempt to block people from communicating is a clear sign that people in government are afraid.

“These are shrills of people who are trying to say whoever communicates must be arrested, these are people who are scared and are trying to scare us but we know they are more scared than we are.

“So this statement is to assure people that whatever you are doing is within your rights and that we are not going to be scared,” Mangoma said.

Meanwhile, PDP president Tendai Biti has urged social movements to remain pure from politics, but added that their demand and those of politicians must converge somewhere.

“It’s very important that the social movement maintains its purity away from political movements, what is however key going forward is that there must be convergence of the two processes, there must be convergence of our political demands that Mugabe must go, that we require change and the mediate to short term demands by the Hashtag movements (#), that is we want cash and we don’t want Bond notes.

“The purity of the two must be maintained, the two processes are not in competition but complementing each other,” he said.

Biti, a seasoned lawyer has had a good season at the Constitutional Court, getting landmark rulings that include banning of child marriages and setting 18 years as the age of consent

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