Potraz threatens Whatsapp users

HARARE - In a clampdown that has been described as fascist, the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) says people found in possession of, or sharing anti-government messages on social media platforms using their mobile phones will be arrested.

Following yesterday’s hugely successful stay away, the government-controlled telecommunications regulator, which falls under the President’s Office, issued a statement threatening to disconnect mobile users who are found fanning mayhem.

Citing statutory Instrument 142 of 2013 as read with the Post and Telecommunications Act, which requires all mobile phone users to register their lines, Potraz said this was a way of arresting criminal abuse of phone lines.

Presently, to register a SIM card, customers are required to produce proof of identification and complete registration forms stating their name, permanent address, gender and nationality, and Potraz is now threatening to hunt those on the wrong side of the law using that information.

In a statement, Potraz said there has been a gross and irresponsible use of social media and telecommunications services by the masses.

Potraz threatens that since mobile phone SIM cards are registered in the user’s name, tracking perpetrators is easy.

“We are therefore warning members of the public that from the date of this notice, any person caught in possession of, generating, sharing or passing on abusive, threatening, subversive or offensive telecommunications messages, including Whatsapp or any other social media messages that may be deemed to cause despondency, incite violence, threaten citizens and cause unrest, will be arrested and dealt with accordingly in the national interest,” read the Potraz notice.

Yesterday morning, social media platform Whatsapp could not be accessed on various networks, with mobile users resorting to install VPN applications to access the site.

The temporary jamming of Whatsapp came after the circulation of messages advising people to heed the “Shut Zimbabwe” call.

Pictures and videos of police brutality on unarmed civilians were also shared on different social media sites.

In the past week, the country has witnessed a wave of protests as Zimbabweans take matters into their own hands.

Comments (6)

POTRAZ beware that you are just simple people holding jobs from which you can be fired. Remember you have children and your generations will be victims in the future. Do not threaten the masses that interact with your families and your business. Leave us to enjoy freedom of thought and expression. Do you not know that the gvt including your organization has failed and needs new faces

nyakuviruka s t - 7 July 2016

That Potraz Message is an empty threat from a toothless dog. WhatsApp offers end-to-end encryption that no one including varidzi veWhatsApp can read your messages. Saka musatyityidzirwe, ukaona wabatwa, there is a mole in your group anenge akutengesa. A luta continua #Hatichatya #tajamuka #thisflag

Aneta - 7 July 2016

POTRAZ, do not try to threaten people. Instead threaten corruption, poverty and unemployment. You need to look at causes of the current unrest. Zimbabweans are the most peaceful people i have ever seen. However, they do not need to be over provoked. By now we must be hearing of top goverment officials being hauled in jailed for corruption but we see the opposite. Banning of imports that were sustaining a lot of cross border traders and vendors. I remember even the First Lady Herself supporting the idea of cross border business. Now in the midst of company closures, someone wakes up and says no more imports yet there is no production of the same goods locally. We now hear of need for import permits and we know the corrupt will be the beneficiaries of these permits. Let me warn you POTRAZ, stay away from people if you are against them. This protest was involving all , ZANU PF, MDC PDP, ZIMPEOPLE FIRST etc. Its about day to day issues affecting Zimbabweans. Threatening people over whatsp is not the solution. Stop corruption, revive local manufacturing companies, revive agriculture and capacitate our farmers, empower the youths and women with income generating projects to alleviate poverty, in this way you will burn down the masses anger. I tell you banning imports,and threatening whatsap users will not achieve anything other than creating hostility and more anger.

Viona Ngwena - 7 July 2016

this is bullshit'why does the gvnmt"Mugabe"only wants everything to go his securu(uncle)way?Out of all the damages he caused is just nothing to them bcz their children are living prime top knoch life?this must end now

samiel jacobs - 7 July 2016

Get away mhani protaz.Dont you know cloud computing.We will continue sending the messages.Who are you to say that.the whole company you are also corrupt makapirei supa mari yekutenga mota nxa zvichapera.

Uth Maitano - 7 July 2016

Futseke mhani PROTRAZ, whats wrong with you monkeys. You too are suffering yet you want to threaten freedom of speech. Do you think this is nineteen gochanhembe? Benzi revanhu. Zanu PF yawora. We will not be intimidated by baffoons who do not know how the internet works. You can never access our whatsup even if you wanted. You can try your dirty tricks but your time is up, Futseke mhani ZANU yeropa. Bloody thirsty vampires. Zivai zvekunwa ropa mhani.

Melissa - 7 July 2016

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