Local firms want social media banned: Supa

INFORMATION, Communication , Technology and Courier Services minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, says despite pressure from local firms to ban social media platforms government will instead seek to ‘protect’ the facility from abusers.

No ban as yet ... Minister Supa Mandiwanzira

No ban as yet … Minister Supa Mandiwanzira

Mandiwanzira urged mobile telecommunication firms to venture into mobile application development to counter the influence of foreign mobile applications which have proven popular in the country.

Addressing journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club, Mandiwanzira said he was approached by local firms, pressing him to ban popular social media platforms which they said were threatening their survival in the industry.

“I told them the only thing that we can do that protects you, is to encourage you to invest in the development of local applications by local people.

“If you invest in the development of local applications and they are good enough for you to sell them through your mobile phone platforms and they can be downloaded by the 13 million subscribers of mobile phones in Zimbabwe at a dollar per year you would have made $13 million.

“Whoever would have developed would have become a millionaire and that revenue can be shared between yourselves who are providing the platform to download these applications and those who would have developed it. We are keen as a ministry to develop local millionaires out of ICTs,” said Mandiwanzira.

The minister said the government and the private sector spent millions of dollars purchasing software developed by innovators from other countries.

“So, beginning this year, we agreed with the operators that we will increase the amount that is going to the Universal Services Fund from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent, with the understanding that the additional 1 percent would go into the universal services fund and that of that will go into a special fund that is facilitating the growth of the local software industry, gaming applications and various other innovations by those passionate about the industry,” said the minister.

Mandiwanzira said the fund started operating in January and has already received $1 million into its coffers.

The minister also reiterated that government had no intention of banning social media platforms in the country but would enact laws that regulate their use.

“There has been a misunderstanding in terms of what we intend to do with the social media. Social media is a very good tool for development, for exchange of ideas, interaction of society, even for business development.

“Social media must be protected and promoted and its use must be encouraged but for it to remain a respectable platform it must be protected from those that abuse it and we must find ways of stopping that abuse or protecting the integrity of social media,” he said.

Mandiwanzira added that he will soon present to Cabinet, the proposed Cyber Security Bill, Electronic Transactions Bill and the Information Communication Technology Bill, for approval before they are presented to parliament.

Angry with the repressive media laws that have been used by the state to silence dissenting voices, Zimbabweans have taken to social media platforms to express their views and opinions on the state of affairs in the country.

However, some have been arrested and arraigned before the courts prompting government to step in, in what has been viewed as attempts to control the social media platforms.


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