LONDON -- TalkZimbabwe exclusively publishes a leaked list of news websites that are under surveillance from the Zimbabwean government and which are possible targets of government censorship because of their 'virulent propaganda' aimed at 'delegitimising the struggle against Anglo-Saxons'.
A fortnight ago the Zanu PF government of President Robert Mugabe signed into law the Interception of Communications Act, which in principle allows the government to spy on the private communications of ordinary citizens.
The comprehensive array of websites contained in a document leaked to us yesterday from the Zanu PF headquarters (HQ) in Harare, includes news publishers accussed of "promoting a negative image of Zimbabwe and its people."
Our source, based at the Zanu PF HQ reveals that the Zanu PF secretary for Science and Technology, Olivia Muchena was instrumental in blacklisting these online publications, accusing them of peddling reports aimed at demonising the ruling Zanu PF party.
The websites are listed under three categories, viz hostile websites, websites under constant monitoring, and hostile blogs.
"Hostile websites have been BLACKLISTED and accussed of deliberately peddling false information about the government of Zimbabwe. The government says these websites have a long history of falsifying information on the issues unfolding in Zimbabwe and attack individual Zanu PF members on baseless accusations," says our source.
"Websites under constant monitoring are considered less hostile, but are being monitored."
"Hostile blogs are said to be run by individuals who are bent on discrediting the government of Zimbabwe and the ruling Zanu PF party."
According to our source, the government is also secretly compiling a list of individuals who are directly connected to these websites, but it is not clear what this list will be used for.
The blacklisted online publications, our source says, are the prime target of a 'cyber warfare plan' which will see Zanu PF setting up a variety of websites to counter bad publicity. The publications are considered unpatriotic and hostile "to their own people" and are blamed for some of the problems currently bedevilling the government of Zimbabwe.
One of the recommendations in the document is that the government of Zimbabwe should urge some of these hostile websites to reconsider their position and report favourably on the situation in the country to boost international perception and help develop the general perception of the country.
"The editors of these publications should seriously reconsider their position and realise that the war against Western Imperialism cannot be won without their help. They should realise that they are Zimbabweans first and this war cannot be won if they continue to discredit the efforts of their Government," said the document.
The government of Zimbabwe is said to have spent over US$1 million in an image-making campaign with New African magazine, and many other efforts are underway to improve Zimbabwe's image.
This new call by Muchena is seen as part of a general government strategy to correct the "lies spread by these online publications." The strategy also includes legislation aimed at enabling the government of Zimbabwe to monitor all telecommunications activity. The Interception of Communications Act passed on 3 August 2007, will "enable government, to keep news and information under close control," says Reporters Without Borders.
The organisation said. "Zimbabwe had already given itself one of the world's most repressive legislative arsenals as regards press freedom. Now all forms of communication have been placed under surveillance."
Here's a list of online publications listed (in alphabetical order) in the memo dated 15 August 2007:
GLOBAL VOICES ONLINE
UNITED STATES EMBASSY IN HARARE
WEBSITES UNDER CONSTANT MONITORING
M&G.CO.ZA (ZIMBABWE SECTION)
THE GUARDIAN (UK)
AFRICANTEARS.NETFIRMS.COM (CATHY BUCKLE)