Zimbabwe Tightens Control on Online Hate Speech and Cyberbullying

A digital landscape format image illustrating the theme of online safety and cybersecurity in Zimbabwe. The scene depicts a modern, high-tech control

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has vowed to intensify efforts to curb hate speech and cyberbullying on online platforms. Dr. Gift Machengete, the Director General of Potraz, announced this commitment during the unveiling of a Child Online Safety Survey conducted in collaboration with the Research Council of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Dr. Machengete highlighted the rampant issues of cyberbullying and hate speech, particularly on the platform formerly known as Twitter, noting that the situation has become “unbearable.” To combat these threats, Potraz plans to leverage the Data Protection Act to restrict access to offending sites and pursue those hiding behind pseudonyms who engage in malicious activities.

In 2021, Zimbabwe enacted a cyber and data protection law to protect citizens’ privacy and curtail internet misuse. This law, along with Potraz’s authority to monitor telecommunications traffic, is part of a broader strategy to ensure online interactions are safe, lawful, and respectful of individual rights.

Cyberbullying has been identified as a growing concern in Zimbabwe and across Africa, linked to severe consequences including depression, loss of self-esteem, and even suicide. A 2019 Unicef poll revealed that one in three young people globally have experienced online bullying, emphasizing the need for stringent measures.

Potraz’s new initiatives aim to foster a safer online environment, ensuring that internet use is productive and respectful, and protecting individuals from the harmful effects of hate speech and cyber harassment.

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