It has been 26 years since the Internet was introduced to Zimbabwe. At the time of its introduction it was the preserve of a few academic researchers, then its use slowly expanded to include commercial users. Currently, the Internet is accessible to an estimated 50% of Zimbabweans who according to statistics, access it mainly on mobile devices such as cellphones and Tablets.
The popularity of instant messaging Apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and lately Twitter has spurred the rise of a new wave of netizens who rely on Internet connectivity for convenient, affordable, and instant communication. It is without a doubt that the Internet is now firmly embedded in the day to day lives of most Zimbabweans, making the protection and promotion of Internet freedoms more essential than ever.
A safe, accessible Internet is the cornerstone of free expression, association of similarly minded individuals, and access to information. This safety and accessibility should be protected at all costs and the violation of human rights online should be documented. This edition of MISAZimbabwe’s 2017 Digital Rights Report takes a look at the events which had an impact on digital rights within Zimbabwean cyberspace. It is an important edition of the Digital Rights report series because of the dynamic political and socio-economic changes which were experienced in Zimbabwe during 2017. These events were reflected in online discourse further proving the fact that the online and offline worlds are now firmly merged, and that rights which were traditionally viewed in an offline context now need to be protected in online environments as well.
MISA-Zimbabwe extends its gratitude to all those involved in the drafting and publication of this report.
MISA-Zimbabwe National Chairperson
This report was compiled with data from both primary and secondary data sources. The primary data is from reports of digital rights violations received and processed by MISA-Zimbabwe. There are also interviews of online users and their experiences online. This report also contains data acquired from network tests used to detect network interruptions and shutdowns. Secondary sources of data include, but are not limited to research articles and articles in local media outlining events which had an impact on digital rights locally.
Source: MISA Zimbabwe