A sweeping surveillance law ratified Friday in Zimbabwe will target “imperialist-sponsored journalists with hidden agendas,” the country’s information minister told CPJ. Sikhanyiso Ndlovu described the law as intending “to protect the president, a minister, or any citizen from harm.”
The Interception of Communications Act will allow authorities to intercept all phone, Internet, and mail communications, and will establish a state monitoring center and require telecommunications providers to install systems “supporting lawful interceptions at all times,” according to the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
Independent journalists say the law is intended to close a loophole in an already oppressive reporting environment. As Zimbabwe has become more restrictive of the media, a greater number of Zimbabwean journalists send their reports to international media outlets and online publications based outside the country. The lawful interception of communications could expose investigative reporters and create a climate of fear, said Zimbabwe Union of Journalists President Matthew Takaona.