Draft Cybercrime bill sparks twitter war between former Finance Min. Tendai Biti & Min. of ICT Supa Mandiwanzira

By Buhle Tshavango

Minister of Information and Communication Technology minister, Supa Mandiwanzira ‘s attempts to engage netizens over twitter recently sparked a “cyber war” with former Finance minister, Tendai Biti over the controversial draft Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill .

Media reports earlier had cited Government’s plans to arrest social media abusers in terms of the new regulations .

According to the report, “The provisions also bring general use of phones, laptops and desktop computers under scrutiny while protecting law-abiding Internet users from harassment, fraudsters and bullies who now face at least five years’ imprisonment.”

Plans to regulate social media were generally met with mixed feelings with most arguing that it was an infringement of their freedom of expression and some who felt it would protect against cyber bulling. Others were on the fence claiming there was nothing to argue about since Zimbabwe had neither the technology or the know how to effect this.

Hon Mandiwanzira who is also the Member of Parliament representing Nyanga South constituency took to social media and defended this draft bills saying it was necessary and all stake holders must contribute to its crafting.

tweeted Hon Mandiwanzira.

Diverse opinions flew around with Biti expressing his disapproval of the draft bill , opinions fast denigrated into insults being hurled all over the place with Hon Mandiwanzira accusing the former of having looted forty million dollars doing his time in office .

Not to be out-done Biti tweeted back,

Cybercrime, also known as Computer crime, is any crime that involves a computer and a network. Cybercrime covers any illegal behaviour committed by means of, or in relation to, a computer system or network.

The draft cybercrime bill is yet to become law with information being compiled to be presented before Parliament.

The draft bill creates several new offences and then provides for the procedure and jurisdictional consequences.

An analysis of this draft bill by human rights lawyer, David Hofisi points out that it is, to a significant degree, influenced by the contents of the Cyber-crime Convention. This is laudable. However, it expands some definitions and introduces some broad and sweeping new crimes to the detriment of the right to freedom of expression.

“It represents a serious threat to the rights to freedom of expression and privacy as enshrined in the Constitution” says Hofisi.

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