By Bevan Musoko
Kwekwe residents overwhelmingly supported the proposed Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill on grounds that it would safeguard social values and secure the country from hostile actions such as espionage and hacking.
Submitting their views to the joint Parliamentary Committees on Peace and Security, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Courier Services and Media, Information and Broadcasting Services at Mbizo Youth Centre in the mining town, majority of attendees at the hearings supported the Bill.
Evangelist Idirashe Dongo of Deborah Lady of Today said there was need to regulate use of social media as many families were breaking up due to harmful use of social media platforms. She cited a spike in cases of couples that were seeking counselling at her church.
Evangelist Dongo also bemoaned that many youths were deviating from leading pure lives due to unregulated use of social media. She urged Parliament to impose stiff penalties on people who create and circulate pornographic material.
Kwekwe Residents Association Secretary General, Thomas Homela said government had delayed passing a law to regulate social media and cyber space. He castigated political activists who called for violent protests through WhatsApp and Facebook, adding that there was confusion in Kwekwe following messages circulating on social media that there would be a national lockdown on 31 July 2020.
Another resident, Patrick Mavingire submitted that the country’s security and law enforcement agencies should have access to the proposed Data Security Centre in order to monitor circulation of messages inciting violence and those spreading hate messages on social media. He argued that in South Africa, social media platforms were used to incite xenophobic attacks, leading to many deaths and destruction of property. Mavingire further argued that it would be wrong to have an independent Data Security Centre and a Data Protection Authority to control the country’s cyber space and data where key national security issues are concerned.
The Committees’ Chairperson, Dr David Parirenyatwa assured the residents that their views would be submitted to Parliament. The Kwekwe public hearings were the last leg of hearings by the Committees after holding other hearings in Bulawayo, Gwanda and Nyamandlovu. There are other committees holding similar hearings in Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Harare provinces.
The bill is set to be enacted into law, given that Zanu PF commands majority in Parliament.