The constitution of Zimbabwe in Section 57 guarantees the right to privacy. This right to privacy includes protection from excessive and unjustified State surveillance. Recently, government recorded an increase in collection of personal information in the absence of adequate data privacy legislation.
Biometric and personal data has been sent to CloudWalk Technology, a Chinese based entity that is providing Zimbabwe with facial recognition technology. This is a violation of people’s right to privacy because no one had knowledge of or consented to the cross border transfer of their data.
MISA Zimbabwe’s work focuses on promoting and advocating for the unhindered enjoyment of freedom of expression, access to information and a free, independent, diverse and pluralistic media.
In a letter dated 3 December 2018 addressed to the Speaker of Parliament by MISA Zimbabwe Chairperson Golden Maunganidze said, “The Zimbabwean cyberspace must be protected, it is our respectful submission that such protection of the local cyberspace must be within the confines of and not unjustifiably encroach on the universal human rights principles and the Zimbabwean Constitution”
“Another point of concern is the lack of transparency around the acquisition of this cybersecurity equipment and the conditions under which it is sold to Zimbabwe. The lack of transparency and information around these deals is against the spirit of good governance and basic principles governing public administration as enshrined in sections 9(1) and 194 (1) (f) and (h) of the Constitution” he added.
MISA Zimbabwe therefore urges Parliament to exercise its oversight function by examining how the acquisition and use of unspecified surveillance equipment will influence or curb the lawful enjoyment of the fundamental rights to privacy and free expression.