Mobile data tarrif hikes

Govt ups efforts to close democratic space ahead of 2018 polls

The increase in mobile data tariffs by over 2 500% has all but confirmed that the Zimbabwean government has intensified its efforts to close the democratic space especially as we head towards the 2018 polls.

It is undeniable that social media had become a cheap medium of communication for impoverished Zimbabweans and at the same time provided a platform for discussion of issues of national concern such as democracy and development.

Fully aware of the power of social media to mobilize citizens towards democracy and development, the failed Zimbabwean government, fully aware of the effects of their failure to improve the livelihoods of impoverished Zimbabweans, has resorted restricting access to information by concerned citizens.

Over the years, the Zimbabwean government has largely depended on propaganda hence efforts to limit citizens’ access to alternative sources of information.

We have witnessed in the past years how the government has issued out radio licenses on a partisan basis and all this is an attempt to block alternative voices or sources of information.

CIZC contends that every Zimbabwean has a right of access to correct information hence closing out other alternative sources of information is unconstitutional.

The mobile data tariff hikes effectively means that access to information in Zimbabwe has been made a preserve of the elite yet it is a constitutional right that ought to be respected.

Section 61 (1) (a) of the Zimbabwean constitution is clear that every person has the “freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information”.

CIZC implores the Zimbabwean government to desist from implementing political decisions that serve the interests of ruling party politicians while infringing on citizens’ fundamental rights.

Access to information is a pre-requisite for development and the recent move to increase mobile data tariffs works against efforts towards a democratic developmental state.

CIZC is of the view that the government directive ought to be challenged using all available channels.

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