Thursday, July 27, 2006

ICB goes before parly

Yesterday, the second day of the second session of Zimbabwe's sixth parliament, the government presented the dreaded Interception of Communications Bill (ICB) reports Zimbabwe Journalists. This development essentially means the bill only two steps from promulgation.

Before it can be voted on in august house, the ICB shall be evaluated for constitutional consistentcy by the Parliamentary Legal Committe.

Of course, this the same legal committe that gave the nod to the electoral act which empowered the chief justice to unilaterally appoint judges to the electoral court giving ZANU-PF unchecked access to the electoral legislative process. The Electoral Act has since been struck down because it does not honor the constitutional mandate that judges be appointed (by the president) and confirmed by parliament. See this.

Once assented by the legal committe, the bill will go before the main floor where it will be voted on by the legislators. Since ZANU-PF has control of both houses of the legislature, there's little doubt the bill will pass and be gazetted as law in short order.

Details about Communications Monitoring Center, which the bill proposes to establish, still remain unclear. What is clear however, is effect such a proposal has on the freedom of expression of the Zimbabwean people.

This is Zimbabwe the prominent blog of the Sokwanele/Zvakwana civic action groups appears to have folded. Many of us involved in Zimbabwean cyber activism are now in limbo as we are unsure how the new law will affect our wellbeing. We've always known ZANU has little sympathy for the things we do, now they will have legal sanction to snoop and harass those us working to tell the story as we see it.

With little recourse left, all we can do is wait to see how the law will affect our lives.

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