President Robert Mugabe introduced Zim’s new Minister of Whatsapp when he announced that a new cybersecurity ministry had been created as a trap to catch “rats” who get up to mischief using cyberspace.
His announcement gave way to numerous jokes about the new role and the man who would occupy it, in the person of; former Zimbabwe finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa.
The name of the new department is the Cyber Security, Threat Detection, and Mitigation ministry but some Zimbabweans have joked that the appointment makes him Zim’s new minister of WhatsApp and Facebook.
As the jokes fly, however, some concerns have been raised about freedom of expression in Zimbabwe. The government seems intent on stimying the access to information in Zimbabwe while clamping down on social media messaging.
Here’s all you need to know about Zim’s new Whatsapp Minister, the Ministry and the new laws.
- Patrick Chinamasa was the finance minister of Zimbabwe up to a week ago.
- He actually pointed a finger at social media platforms such as WhatsApp for the inflation spikes that hit Zimbabwe at the end of September.
- Mr Chinamasa believed that the false information spreads on these platforms is what led to long queues and shortages of some basic foodstuffs in supermarkets as Zimbabweans panicked and investors sounded the alarm on the economy’s condition.
- President Mugabe’s government has said that the ministry is protective.
- Zimbabwe’s government has also finalized a Computer and Cyber Crimes Bill that has attracted criticism from human rights and freedom of expression campaign groups.
- According to a spokesman of President Mugabe, the new minister will be able to learn from the experience of other countries including China and Russia. The two countries mentioned are notorious for their censorship of social media platforms.
- The new Zimbabwean Ministry of Cyber Security has already passed a new constitutional law in the country that makes it illegal to own and operate a WhatsApp group without registration with them.
- Per the above, WhatsApp group administrators are now required to have a minimum of Level 1 certification from the Border Gezi University of Cybersecurity, Threat Detection and Mitigation and people who belong to a WhatsApp group that is helmed by unregistered and unqualified administrators are now committing criminal offences and will be held liable by law.
The ministry may be the biggest move that the President has yet made in trying to contain the influence of social media in next year’s election.