The Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Nicholas Goche will now be responsible for the Interception of Communications Act, which enables security agents to monitor phone lines, mail and the internet.
Chamisa, a member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirais MDC party, described the annexing of only the spying function of his ministry to Goche as “a fairly reasonable compromise under the circumstances.”
Initially, Mugabe had unilaterally reallocated the entire telecommunications aspect of Chamisa’s portfolio to Goche, a former minister in charge of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told a news conference in Harare Thursday that the three principals to the power-sharing agreement, himself, Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had agreed to transfer the communications monitoring functions to Goche.
Tsvangirai said: “The ministry of Information Communication Technology will retain its responsibility over the Posts and Telecommunications Act, Potraz, TelOne, Net*One and ZimPost;
The ministry of Media Information and Publicity will oversee the Broadcasting Act and Transmedia; and the ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development will be responsible for the Interception of Communications Act.”
The eventual compromise followed a drawn-out dispute between Chamisa and Webster Shamu, minister of Media, Information and Publicity, for control of the telecomms sector.
Officials claim the spying is necessary to protect national security and crime, but human rights groups have insisted it is a desperate attempt to muzzle free speech under a crackdown on dissent.
The switch of functions means Goche will now be responsible for approving all instructions from police and departments of security, defence, intelligence and revenue to order the interception of communications.
Chamisa on the other hand retains control over the crucial PTC Act which manages telecomm operators, internet service providers, data management, and all postal and courier services in the country.