When Zanu PF, the party of Zimbabwean president, Emmerson Mnangagwa sent out a text message campaign to thousands of people last week it was probably not expecting to set off an uproar about invasion of citizens’ data privacy. But that is just what is has managed to do and also been accused of manipulating the voter roll. Mnangagwa and the main opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa are caught up in an intense battle ahead of presidential, parliamentary and local government polls on July 30 this year. It is the first election in Zimbabwe’s 38-year history without former president Robert Mugabe on the ballot and a lot of the debates are being played out on social media.
This is perhaps why Zimbabweans have been quick to raise serious concerns about a targeted bulk messaged from the ruling party. The key issue is it is unclear how Zanu PF obtained phone numbers but opposition leader Chamisa has claimed his rivals did so illegally.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission was accused of giving away private citizens’ information to Zanu PF but the electoral body has been quick to refute the allegation and appeared to shift the blame on to mobile companies.