There are several factors, some legal, some political and some economic, that continue to impact the exercise of rights online in Zimbabwe, particularly free expression, the right to privacy and access to information.
In March 2021, shortly before the elections scheduled for August, then Zambian president Edgar Lungu quickly signed and enacted three internet-related laws, one of which has remained especially problematic into 2022: the Cyber Security and Cyber Crimes Act.
Namibia has become the latest African country to introduce mandatory SIM card registration and data retention regulations that will have a far-reaching impact on online privacy and data protection in the country.
Recent instances of the use of state surveillance apparatus for repressive purposes and prosecutions, compounded by a lack of data and online privacy protections and low internet penetration and usage, have heightened fears that the country is regressing in terms of safeguarding online rights.
The draft bill would have enabled surveillance abuse and privacy violations. The pressure that was brought to bear by various human and media rights organisations, and the international spotlight that it attracted, paid off and the bill was withdrawn and amended.
Since early 2021, the Kingdom of Eswatini has been gripped by waves of civil unrest, with reports of internet shutdowns implemented by the government in response to protests. It is in this climate of suspicion and unrest that cybercrime and data protection laws were gazetted in early 2022.
This invisibility in the South African national narrative can also be seen by the language’s absence on the internet.
This position paper is informed by monitoring conducted by the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (AfDec) Coalition of developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms (AfDec) Coalition has set 2020 as the year for robust advocacy for an open and free internet as well as strategic promotion of online human rights in Africa.
Southern African members of the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms Coalition took part in a strategy-networking meeting held in Windhoek, Namibia, where they stressed the need for advocacy for the respect, recognition and promotion of freedom of expression online.