Namibia: Swapo Eyes the Creation of Cyber Security Ministry

Namibia: Swapo Eyes the Creation of Cyber Security Ministry

A cyber security ministry should be created to “control information” on social media, one of the resolutions of the recently concluded Swapo congress states.

The proposed ministry would also be tasked with tackling cyber crime, including hacking and monitoring illicit [financial] flows.

The establishment of the cyber security ministry is one of the many resolutions to be finalised at an extraordinary congress next year, along with the proposed amendments to the party’s constitution.

Swapo’s proposal for a cyber security ministry comes a month after former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe established a similar ministry in that country.

When the resolutions are approved at next year’s extraordinary congress, Swapo would also move to monitor its own members on social media.

This is apparently to prevent and discourage party members from sharing information about the party, its leaders and other members on social media platforms that can be considered as undermining the party’s values. Party members found guilty of such transgressions would be charged with misconduct, in line with the party’s code of conduct and disciplinary procedures, the resolution states.

Swapo’s proposal for a cyber security ministry was met with heavy criticism from the Access to Information in Namibia (ACTION) coalition yesterday.

The coalition’s chairperson, Frederico Links, said Swapo’s plans to control what people post on social media was highly concerning, and could undermine party members’ constitutional right to free speech.

He said the move was a clear attempt by the party to prioritise surveillance and censorship, which came from a leadership mentality that “they should not be criticised, heckled or called out on public platforms”.

“Instead of investing in social media literacy and general media literacy training for members to prevent some of the excesses on social media, they jump to an extreme of appearing to want to create a censorial environment, as the need to ‘control information’ indicates,” Links stated.

He added that the move by Swapo might weaken democracy in the country, and open the doors to repression.

Swapo’s new secretary general, Sophia Shaningwa, did not respond to phone calls and SMSes sent to her cellphone yesterday to explain the mandate of the proposed cyber security ministry. Former secretary general Nangolo Mbumba was also not reachable for comment.

Apart from these measures, Swapo also wants government to explore nuclear power generation, and to set a 2020 deadline for the implementation of the Kudu gas project. Namibia currently imports over 80% of its electricity from neighbouring countries.

The draft resolutions state that the foundation of nuclear power generation would be set by relentlessly pursuing a policy of “selecting, training and developing professionals in the nuclear field”.

The party also wants government to adopt a proportional energy mix policy, and give ultimatums to generation licence holders to set up power plants, or face the revocation of licences if they fail to comply.

Other resolutions include the introduction of stricter measures to deal with the “trend of forging and falsifying information and party documents by party members”.

The party also intends to improve its disciplinary procedures in order to accommodate members who have “serious complaints or feel aggrieved” to first seek internal solutions before opting to approach the courts.

Source: The Namibian