Zimbabwe and South Africa should work together to fight against those who use the cyber space to sabotage economic activity, President Mugabe has said.
President Mugabe made the remarks at the high level Zimbabwe South Africa Bi-National Commission in Pretoria yesterday.
His comments come in the wake of bogus social media messages in Zimbabwe that caused panic buying after lying that a major shortage of basic goods was looming.
Diverting from his prepared speech, President Mugabe said the cyber space offered a new threat that could cause “subversion” of the economies of both Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“We have discovered the bitter lesson that there was abuse, unlimited abuse of our cyber technology by those who wanted to undermine our economies and I think together we should look at how we can protect our economies from those who would want to destroy them using ICT. We do not have the means yet and I do not think you have adequate means yet, but I am aware that some of our friends have, let’s try to borrow these means and protect our economies from subversion.”
President Mugabe said agreements signed in the Information and Communication Technology sector between the two countries should allow for greater cooperation to fight cyber crimes.
“The agreements will create yet more opportunities for closer cooperation between us, in the key strategic and critical sectors, for the transformation and development of our economies. I invite our respective public and private sectors not to miss out on these opportunities,” he said.
In an interview with journalists following President Mugabe’s remarks, South Africa’s Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Mr Siyabonga Cwele said digital offences had become a serious predicament that needed to be tackled at the international level.
“It needs our common approach as citizens and as nations. Recently, we h
ad discussions at Sadc in Durban, where we said there should be cooperation at a bilateral, regional and multilateral level because internet is important.
“We cannot shut internet down but we must protect our citizens. The first thing we are advocating is that there must be international rules at the UN (United Nations) level and at the local level we must have robust rules to assist our citizens.”
Minister Cwele said South Africa had adopted extensive homegrown strategies to fight computer-generated offenses.
“In South Africa, we have what we call a cyber hub where we are working very closely with our banking system, because most of the bad guys try to get into the bank accounts. We are working with them and where we detect threats early, we are able to advise, and also because we have this alliance with social partners and business partners, we are able to advise other entrepreneurs to warn them that these are the things that are coming.
“But we are not only dealing with business, we are also dealing with ordinary citizens. If your business is hacked and put down, the first thing is denial but we will help you to come out easily. The aim is to protect our citizens and protect our systems while at the same time encouraging our citizens to use the internet for their own socio economic development.”