Gvt Criminalizes Fake News During Lockdown, Sets 20 Year Jail Sentence
The Zimbabwean government has now promulgated Statutory Instrument (SI)83/2020 to give legal effect to the lockdown which will start at midnight.
The government has decided to crack a whip on the spreading of fake news.
Any false reports which have the “effect of prejudicing the State’s enforcement of the national lockdown” have been made a criminal offence which attracts a fine, prison sentence or both. SI83/2020 reads :
False reporting during the national lockdown
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 fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years or both.
President Mnangagwa on Friday announced that the country will go into a 21-day lockdown to manage the Covid-19 pandemic which is rapidly spreading and has killed thousands of people across the globe.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said that the lockdown will come into effect at midnight today.
“The date of the lockdown is 30 March 2020, this means it will start at 00:00 hours on Monday morning, the same way you celebrate New Year at midnight of the New Year’s Eve is the same way we start at midnight,” said Mr Mangwana.