The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has confirmed it has terminated employment contracts of five directors, including that of the acting director general Mwenya Mutale.
This was confirmed by the regulator’s corporate communications manager Hansford Chaaba.
No further information was given as to the reasons behind the action.
However, an insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told ITWeb Africa that the dismissals are linked to the shutdown of the internet and blocking of social media platforms during last year’s presidential and general elections.
According to the source the directors are accused of acting against good corporate governance principles by deciding to shut down the internet and social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram along with WhatsApp messaging system – this after Zambians had voted for their preferred presidential candidate and were waiting to see the results on social media platforms.
He said “I can confirm to you that the dismissal of the directors is connected to last year’s internet shut down. ZICTA was ordered by the then government in power to shut down the internet after sensing defeat with a view of trying to manipulate the outcome of the results. Remember that the opposition had set up their own parallel voter tabulation (PVT) centres to countercheck the results that were being released by the Electoral Commission of Zambia. So the whole idea of shutting down the internet was to stop the opposition from transmitting results to their PVT centres. The directors accepted the directive and shut down the internet and blocked social media platforms”.
The shutdown was later overturned by the Lusaka High Court after a local Non-governmental organisation (NGO) Chapter One Foundation took legal action against ZICTA seeking an order that the Authority resumes all internet services.
The NGO argued that that ZICTA did not have jurisdiction to make the decision to shut down the internet, and that this action was not supported by any law.
The organisation claimed the decision was counter-productive and an infringement of the rights and interests of service providers and consumers.