Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zambia and Bloggers of Zambia have noted
with trepidation the cabinet decision to pass legislation that will increase
the cost of internet use by introducing a 30 Ngwee tariff on Internet voice
calls in Zambia.
also worried with the fast speed at which the government is moving to enact the
Cybercrime and Cyber Security Bill aimed at regulating Internet usage,
especially social media in Zambia.
concerned about the proposed tariff of 30 Ngwe per day because it is a major
threat to freedom of expression, access to information, media rights, freedom
of assembly online an affront to the enjoyment of digital rights.
cabinet approval of the issuance of a Statutory Instrument that will facilitate
the introduction of the tariff to be charged through mobile phone operators and
internet providers is an affront to net neutrality, and affordable
a form of double and punitive taxation and taxing individual users in lieu of
the social media companies that actually make money. We are concerned about
this proposal because it falls within a pattern of government clampdown on
online expression as we have noted of late.
to state that the proposed 30 Ngwee tariff on Internet calls will limit access to
basic rights and it will harm businesses.
proposed tariff on Internet calls is a threat to entrepreneurship and
innovation as many youths and other citizens are using the Internet platforms to
advance their socio-economic activities. Citizens across the country mobilise
themselves using Internet calls. Why should we make this expensive in the midst
of already over-taxed residents, coupled with high poverty levels?
of the view that the underlying objective in the passing of this legislation is
to stifle free expression rights of millions of Zambians who increasingly
depend on online tools to communicate. We believe that this is a systematic
attempt of censoring online platforms.
the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) fined
Zambia’s three mobile phone service providers for offering poor services. This
is evidence that citizens have been receiving expensive and low quality
services, hence taking advantage of cheaper Internet calls.
telecommunication companies to comment on the proposed tariff and state whether
they are not making profits from the current business environment.
we ask whether there been any complaint from service providers citing major
loss of business because citizens are making Internet calls. Citizens pay for
both data and airtime. We also request for statistics and the evidence to
warrant the tariff.
regard to the Cybercrime and Cyber Security Bill, our view remains that the
process of enacting these laws must be made open and transparent for input from
citizens, bloggers, journalists and activists.
process of drafting internet laws has been closed and non-participatory,
prompting suspicions that the laws contain clauses that will close internet
spaces. We have noted that similar Internet laws in Egypt, Tanzania and Kenya
have caused so much consternation as some of the clauses in the laws are
purposely vague and they do not promote free speech and freedom of assembly
demand that the process of enacting the Access to Information law and
operationalisation of the Media and Communications Policy be expedited together
with the cyber laws.
on government to withdraw the tariff and rather consider investing in the
sector to ensure that all Zambians have access to affordable, reliable and open
call upon bloggers, journalists and activists to join our clarion call for a
free, open and safe internet ecosystem for all, including women and girls. Our
campaign both on Facebook and Twitter is using the hashtag #OpenSpaceZM.