In the beginning many of us had lots of questions pertaining the newly-created Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation. Some of the questions people tended to ask was why such a technologically oriented ministry was given to a 70-year-old former Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who does not even have a social media account just to begin with? While others questioned whether he was tech savvy enough to lead the Cyber Security Ministry? Others on the economic side, as a means to cut down on government expenditure, felt that the newly-created Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation was supposed to be a mere division in the Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services headed by Supa Mandiwanzira, but following recent events on the arrest of Martha O’Donovan, guess we now have a glimpse of what this Cyber Security Ministry is all about.
Patrick Chinamasa was appointed Finance Minister after Mugabe’s re-election in 2013 and his move to head the new Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation was unexpected for him to be the head of such a ministry but not unforeseen considering the government’s sudden interest in wanting to focus on crimes on social media and other websites ahead of an election due next year.
Government critics took to Twitter deriding Chinamasa as new “minister of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp affairs”.
Chinamasa, a lawyer by training, will also be responsible for bringing to parliament a long-awaited cyber crimes bill that criminalize false information posted on the internet, revenge porn, cyber-bullying and online activity against the government.
Previous incidents that led to the introduction of the Cyber Security Ministry in Zimbabwe
Its creation comes after Chinamasa said last month the government would now treat social media as a security threat after accusing users of spreading rumours about shortages of basic goods, which caused panic buying and price increases.
A new wave of activists have used social media to organise protests against Mugabe’s rule and the government has been uneasy with social media after activists such as pastor Evan Mawararire. His #ThisFlag movement last year used social media to organise a stay-at-home demonstration, the biggest anti-government protest in a decade.
Martha O’Donovan Arrest sheds light on the newly introduced Cyber Security Ministry role
- Martha O‘Donovan faces more serious anti-government plot charge
- Faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted
- Denies both charges; due in court today (Saturday)
Martha O‘Donovan, a U.S. citizen, who works for Magamba TV, which describes itself as Zimbabwe’s leading producer of political satire is being charged with attempting to overthrow the Zimbabwean government, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in jail, after police earlier accused her of insulting President Robert Mugabe.
Police seized her computers, cellphones and other electronic devices in the raid on her home.
She was first charged with insulting and undermining the president, according to a police charge sheet, which accused her of last month calling Mugabe a “selfish and sick man” on Twitter, the first such arrest since the creation of a Ministry of Cyber Security last month.
That charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
The police are accusing Martha of setting up Magamba, being behind a “shadowy Twitter character” called @matigary and setting up another Twitter account @OpenParlyZw “for the sole purpose of overthrowing the government through unconstitutional means”.
The police search warrant showed that central to its investigation was a post on O‘Donovan’s Twitter feed referring to a “Goblin” whose wife and step-sons had imported a Rolls-Royce, an apparent reference to Mugabe, though he was not named.
George Charamba, a government spokesman, said in October that Mugabe had created the new ministerial post to deal with an “emerging threat to the state … a threat founded on abuse and unlawful conduct”.
Martha had been working with social media outlet Magamba TV, which has a cult following among educated, urban youth in Zimbabwe.
The outlet describes itself as producing “satirical comedy sensations”. O’Donovan, a graduate of New York University, has called herself a manager for Magamba TV and a media activist. Earlier this year, she presented a talk at a re:publica digital culture conference titled “How Zimbabweans Rebel Online”.
The U.S. embassy in Harare also confirmed her arrest and is closely monitoring the situation.
Martha denies both charges and is expected in court today (Saturday)
The post Zimbabwe Makes First Arrest After Establishing Cyber Security Ministry appeared first on Innovation Village.