Zambia’s Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba has confirmed the country’s parliament will review three bills designed to regulate internet usage and social media: the cybersecurity and cybercrime bill, e-commerce bill and data protection bill.
In April last year President Edgar Lungu openly challenged Zambia’s Information and Communication Technology Regulatory Authority (ZICTA) to control what he believed to be the threat of social media abuse.
In January, presidential spokesperson Amos Chanda communicated with the Inspector General of the Zambia police, Kakoma Kanganja and requested intervention to curtail what he described as ‘repeated forgery and altering of state house statements on social media.’
“We have been talking about the abuse of social media and the digital space, and we’re [also] expressing our displeasure at other abuses regarding social media and other fora,” Chanda said.
This week, Zambia’s communications ministry stated that regulation is being pursued to prevent “uncontrollable usage” of the internet and online services such as social media.
Mushimba also said the government will not shut down social media, but only regulate its use.
ZICTA Director for Consumer Protection Mofya Chisala said regulation would target individuals.
“When you sit in your room on your iPad or your phone and you start commenting, writing and rubbishing people, you know, we will catch up with you. I think we need to switch up, turn the heat up. We are now following every lead we have and we will get to you,” Chisala said on radio.
However, the developments have been widely condemned by stakeholders including Lewis Mwape, Executive Director of the Zambian Council for Social Development.
“People will now have trouble openly discussing national affairs for fear of being prosecuted,” he said.