The Young Africa Leadership Initiative (YALI) says there is no way the Patriotic Front (PF) government can abuse the cyber security bill when enacted into law to rig the August 12, 2021 general elections because there is no link between cyber security and how election are conducted.
Responding to social media claims that the PF government is in a hurry to enact the bill into law to prolong its stay in power, YALI president Andrew Ntewewe said critics have no basis for their claims.
Mr. Ntewewe said there is urgent need to regulate the use of cyber space which has led to cyberbullying, social anxiety, depression, and exposure to content that is not age appropriate.
He stated in an interview with ZANIS that as the country prepares for the general elections, people should not be allowed to abuse social media to an extent that they cause alarm in the country.
“Causing alarm may lead to panic and anxiety and people may react in different ways and the results may be disastrous. That is why we must be able to regulate the use of cyberspace,” he said.
Mr. Ntewewe observed that Zambia has a clean record of having free, fair and credible elections and the abuse of social media can lead to social strife.
“We are in a democracy, certain people will always criticize the government. They will criticize even progressive ideas, some don’t even know why they are opposed to the bill,” he said.
He further said people must be able to understand that the government wants to improve democracy.
“We believe that once enacted into law, this bill will enhance good governance because we have a lot of people who have been bullied, harassed, and intimidated on social media to such an extent that the democratic space is shrinking,” he said.
Mr. Ntewewe stated that those with opposing views on certain ideas are being harassed and are afraid to share their views.
“But today, we have a clique that has taken over social media that will criticize anyone with divergent views. That is unacceptable,” he said.
He further stressed the need to regulate social media to protect women, girls, and others who are intimidated and bullied on cyberspace.
Cabinet recently approved the introduction and publication of a bill to introduce the law on cybersecurity and cybercrimes.
According to Chief Government Spokesperson Dora Siliya, the introduction of the cybersecurity law is meant to promote the responsible use of social media platforms as well as ensure the provision of cybersecurity in the country.