two proposed legislative steps have far-reaching impact on the ability of civil society to perform
its duties within the borders of Zimbabwe.
In essence, the laws seek to criminalise civil society’s work at a magnitude never witnessed before
in the history of Zimbabwe as a solitary state.
Political context and key events
During the year under review (2021) and two years before the 10th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s
otherwise highly commended 2013 Constitution and its progressive Bill of Rights, on 3 December
2021, Zimbabwe enacted the Data Protection Act which has aspects relating to cybersecurity and
The object of this Act is “to increase data protection in order to build confidence and trust in the
secure use of information and communication technologies by data controllers, their
representatives and data subjects”.
This law also amended provisions of the following three pieces of legislation:

Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act)


The Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act


The Interception of Communications Act

The law has progressive provisions relating to specifications on the rights of data subjects,
notification of security breach together with the responsibilities that have been placed on data
controllers for purposes of promoting data protection and privacy.
The other provision is on cyber-bullying and harassment. Such provisions are progressive as far
as women’s rights online are concerned.
Several women, particularly female journalists and female politicians in Zimbabwe, have been
victims of cyber-bullying and harassment which has greatly affected the exercise of digital rights
by women.
If implemented properly, this provision will be critical in ensuring that individuals respect the
rights of others to also freely express themselves and access information online.


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