Information, Communication Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said Government had nothing to do with yesterday’s jamming of the social media platform WhatsApp. He said such a move would mean that Government had also participated in the purported shutting down of the country.
Minister Mandiwanzira’s comments follow allegations by some sections of the society that Government yesterday interfered with social platforms such as WhatsApp and Internet services to stop people from mobilising ahead of yesterday’s “stayaway”. Minister Mandiwanzira said instead, his ministry had been under pressure since last year from all the network operators to ban social networks such as WhatsApp, Viber and Skype arguing that they were eating into their revenue collections.
“Since December last year, this ministry has been under immense pressure from mobile network operators in this country for us to ban over the top, services like WhatsApp, Skype, Viber and the like because the operators are claiming that these overthetop services are eating into their revenue, and yet they have not spent any resource in building their networks,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
He said it was the ruling Government that resisted that call to ban those types of social media imploring the network providers to be innovative. “Instead of people coming up with all these falsehoods that Government has interfered with over the top services, they should give us credit for refusing this insistence by operators to ban over the top services,” he said. Minister Mandiwanzira said Government has no intention to ban the use of social media in Zimbabwe, but said the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) had a responsibility of guarding against its abuse by some elements of the society.
“There are elements, which have been abusing social media by sending information to do with how to make bombs, how to kill, pornography and even child pornography and the regulator has a responsibility of warning people of such abuse of tools like social media,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
He said the fact that POTRAZ released its statement warning such elements against such acts of abuse on a day some sections of the society had called for a protest through the social media was a mere coincidence. “POTRAZ has a responsibility that is 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and yesterday’s protests and the release of their statement was just a coincidence,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.