Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced during a national TV interview on ZBC that the country has created a law that allows them to prosecute and jail people who the government considers as spreading fake news for up-to 20 years in jail.
Statutory Instrument (SI) 83 of 2020, the Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020, sets out restrictions that was strongly criticized by analysts saying it potentially violate fundamental rights to property and to freedom of expression.
Section 14 of the regulations says: “For the avoidance of doubt, any person who publishes or communicates false news about any public ofﬁcer, ofﬁcial or enforcement officer involved with enforcing or implementing the national lockdown in his or her capacity as such, or about any private individual that has the effect of prejudicing the state’s enforcement of the national lockdown, shall be liable for prosecution under Section 31 of the Criminal Law Code (“Publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state”) and liable to the penalty there provided, that is to say a ﬁne up to or exceeding level 14 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years or both.”
The President was commenting to the Statement that was circulating on Social media about ” Extension of Lockdown Period By 13 Days 13 Only” that was attributed to him and his office, signed 10 April 2020.
“I am supposed to have made a statement that I am going to extent (the lockdown), that is absolutely nonsense, I have never made such a statement. We have now a law which punishes those who produce fake news, and we have asked the CIO to trace who did this one, to say the President has made an extension when I have not, so that if we catch that person it must be exemplary and they must go in for at least level 14, which is 20 years imprisonment.”
Download The False Statement Attributed to President Mnangagwa here;