ECONET is currently awaiting response from government for its request for foreign currency to purchase equipment to be used for spying as mandated under the Interception of Communications Act.
while they wanted to comply with the laws of Zimbabwe, it was next to impossible given the foreign currency crunch.
“We are awaiting response from the authorities. What we are saying is that we will comply with the laws of Zimbabwe, but to buy that equipment we need foreign currency and we have long requested for it,” he said.
Mboweni said Econet will comply with the new law as there was no other way out.
“We will comply with the laws of the country because failure to do so will mean losing our operating licence.”
He said the terminal to put the spying hardware were already there.
The law will allow government to spy one people’s telephone conversations. It will also allow government to read emails and text messages.
Legal experts have condemned the law saying while it was common practice worldwide it was susceptible to abuse by the government to target political opponents.
The major problem is that in Zimbabwe the law is vague. According to the law government minister, police and intelligence chiefs are allowed to spy on people’s communication.
Experts say whereas other countries use the law to deal with terrorism and other serious offenses it seems that the government wants to use the law to deal with perceived opponent like political activists, parties and journalists.
“The motive of the law is to deal with opponents. This is clear especially if you look at the vague crafting of this law. There are no clear checks and balances to ensure that the system is not abused,” a lawyer with a local firm.
Meanwhile Econet says it has started testing the third generation cellular (3G) service as they wait for frequency allocation by Potraz.
“What we are waiting for is frequency allocation and not a licence as is being said because we already have GSM licence,” said Mboweni. Econet is the country’s largest communications operator and controls 45% of the fixed telecommunications and mobile market. State run Net*One follows in second place with 21%, followed by Tel*One with 18% and Telecel with 16%.