By Gremmer Phiri
Government has expressed concern over the abuse of social media where fake news meant to discredit Zimbabwe and its leadership is being peddled by the country’s detractors.
This Thursday’s question without notice session in Senate, saw the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa expressing government’s disappointment with the continued abuse of social media and the urgent need to criminalise such acts.
“Government is working on a Cyber bill, a law which seeks not only to criminalise the peddling of fake news but also aims at ensuring that perpetrators of falsehoods on social media can be made to account giving the courts power to impose punitive sanctions when it is appropriate.
“This is a common practice worldwide as exemplified by the Patriot and Logan laws of the USA. The bill is at an advanced stage and the hope is that this will act as an adequate deterrent to would-be offenders. However, it is important to admit that pinning the offenders is not a walk in the park as most of them hide behind fake accounts and trolls, which are difficult to unmask.
“In this regard, the most effective way to counter fake news remains that of setting the national agenda through correct and true information to flood the cyberspace and suffocate the fake news,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Senator Mutsvanga who is also the leader of government business in the Senate indicated that government has nothing to hide, hence its determination to create a vibrant media environment, but not one defined by the peddling of falsehoods.
“The Second Republic under the visionary leadership of President E.D. Mnangagwa has nothing to hide and as such carried out legal reforms in the media sector aimed at aligning laws to the Constitution as well as match best practices in providing a conducive and enabling environment to the media.
“The aim is to create a vibrant media in Zimbabwe in which plurality and diversity are welcome. This saw the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) being repealed and succeeded by the Freedom of Information Act as well as the Zimbabwe Media Commission and the Protection of Personal Information bills that are currently at various stages of enactment into law. Despite these efforts by Government, there has been a rampant and mischievous abuse of the Government’s efforts to improve the media environment.”
The Minister gave credit to Zimbabweans for disregarding fake news being peddled by online platforms bent on discrediting the country’s leadership.
She said it is the duty of every Zimbabwean to be a good ambassador of their country if the country is to move forward in the path of prosperity.