Mugabe is listening- to your phone call
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has signed into law a Bill allowing the state to eavesdrop on private phone conversations and monitor faxes and emails.
The Interception of Communication Act, published in the Government Gazette on Friday, provides for the setting up of an interception centre to listen into telephone conversations, open mail and intercept emails and faxes.
The law also compels internet service providers to install equipment to facilitate interception "at all times or when so required" and ensure that its equipment allows full-time monitoring of communications.
"A service provider who fails to give assistance in terms of this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine ... or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both," reads part of the new law.
The law came under a barrage of criticism while it was still being debated, with media groups saying it was a major step backwards.
The Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers' Association said many operators would shut down if they failed to raise foreign currency to import the interception devices.
"We have always been intercepted during communication, be it emails, phones or even at post offices, but with the passing of the law they will now do it on a large scale. This is a very sad day for Zimbabwe," said Harare-based media lawyer Wilbert Mandinde.