Zambia’s government has refused to disband the country’s ICT and telecommunications regulatory body, the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), following complaints by stakeholders that the organisation is failing in its duties.
Various stakeholders within the country’s ICT and telecommunications industries claim ZICTA is not executing its mandate effectively and specifically not dealing with issues like poor quality of service by mobile phone operators, an increasing number of cases involving theft from subscriber mobile money accounts, cyberbullying and hate speech on social media.
They also accuse the body of not following through on the arrest of perpetrators.
Winter Kabimba, President of the opposition Rainbow Party, added his voice to the complaints.
“ZICTA should be held accountable by the Zambian people because most of the statements appearing on social media are inflammatory and divisive and despite being reported to ZICTA and the police, nothing is being done to bring them to book.”
However but the country’s Minister of Communications and Transport Mutotwe Kafwaya defended the institution and said it was not ZICTA’s duty to arrest individuals, but that of local law enforcement.
“We will not disband ZICTA because we know it is working hard together with the police to bring to book all the people behind online hate speech, cyberbullying and fake news. Government is planning to come up with a new law that will help to deal with producers of fake news and those spreading it,” said Kafwaya .
Zambia police spokesperson Esther Mwata Katongo issued a statement confirming that the arrest of several people for various cybercrime offences.
“In the months of February and March 2020, police working in collaboration with ZICTA arrested four people for offences of proposing violence in relation to matters alleged to have been posted on Facebook,” said Katongo.
While ZICTA has not issued official statements regarding quality of service offered by operators or its position on the theft from mobile money accounts, ZICTA director general Patrick Mutimunshi did say: “There is quite a lot of work that we are doing and we will continue to work with other security wings to ensure that some of these things are brought to a minimum.”