Zimbabwe arrests journalist over report Grace Mugabe gave used underwear to supporters

In this Sept. 1, file photo Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe addresses party supporters at a rally in Gweru, Zimbabwe. (AP)
Updated 04 October 2017
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Zimbabwe arrests journalist over report Grace Mugabe gave used underwear to supporters

HARARE: Zimbabwe police have arrested a journalist at a privately-owned daily over a story claiming that President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace had donated second-hand underwear to supporters, lawyers said Tuesday.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said that Kenneth Nyangani, a NewsDay journalist, was arrested on Monday night “for allegedly writing and publishing a story over the donation of some used undergarments by First Lady Grace Mugabe.”
Nyangani was being detained in the eastern city of Mutare and is likely to face “criminal defamation” charges, the organization said in a statement. He is yet to appear in court.
The NewsDay on Monday reported that a ruling Zanu-PF lawmaker, Esau Mupfumi had over the weekend handed out clothes saying they were donated by Grace Mugabe.
“I met the First Lady Grace Mugabe and I was given these clothes so that I can give you. I have briefs for you and I am told that most of your briefs are not in good shape, please come and collect your allocations today,” the NewsDay quoted Mupfumi as saying.
“We have night dresses, sandals and clothes, come and take, this is from your First Lady Grace Mugabe.”
Zimbabwe’s worsening economic crisis has forced many people to resort to buying second-hand clothes which are more affordable.
The used clothes that include undergarments are mostly imported from Mozambique after being shipped from Western nations.
Zimbabwe once banned the sale of second-hand clothes in 2015 but later lifted the ban.
The southern African country is facing money shortages and high unemployment blamed on long ruling President Robert Mugabe economic policies.
Amnesty International has called for Nyangani’s unconditional release, saying his arrest aimed at harassing and intimidating journalists.
“The intention is to send a chilling message to journalists and media workers that they must self-censor rather than expose truths,” it said in a statement.


Vietnam passes cybersecurity law despite privacy concerns

Updated 12 June 2018
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Vietnam passes cybersecurity law despite privacy concerns

HANOI, Vietnam: Vietnamese legislators on Tuesday passed a contentious cybersecurity law, which critics say will hurt the economy and further restrict freedom of expression.
The law requires service providers such as Google and Facebook to store user data in Vietnam, open offices in the country and remove offending contents within 24 hours at the request of the Ministry of Information and Communications and the specialized cybersecurity task-force under the Ministry of Public Security.
Addressing the Communist Party-dominated assembly before the vote, chairman of the Committee on Defense and Security Vo Trong Viet said the law is “extremely necessary to defend the interests of the people and national security.”
Viet said the law doesn’t contradict Vietnam’s commitments to multinational trade treaties such as the World Trade Organization and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but he said there are exceptions on national security grounds.
He said requiring foreign companies to set up data centers in Vietnam may increase their operational costs, but it was necessary for the country’s cybersecurity and will facilitate the companies’ operations and user activities.
“When there are acts of violation of cybersecurity, the coordination in handling the violations will be more effective and more viable,” Viet said, without elaborating.
The United States and Canada have called on Vietnam to delay the passage of legislation.
The US Embassy said last week it found the draft containing “serious obstacles to Vietnam’s cybersecurity and digital innovation future, and may not be consistent with Vietnam’s international trade commitments.”
Amnesty International said the decision has potentially devastating consequences for freedom of expression.
“In the country’s deeply repressive climate, the online space was a relative refuge where people could go to share ideas and opinions with less fear of censure by the authorities,” Clare Algar, Amnesty International’s director of global operations, said in a statement Tuesday.
She said the law grants the government sweeping powers to monitor online activity, which means “there is now no safe place left in Vietnam for people to speak freely.”
“This law can only work if tech companies cooperate with government demands to hand over private data. These companies must not be party to human rights abuses, and we urge them to use the considerable power they have at their disposal to challenge Viet Nam’s government on this regressive legislation,” she said.
The Vietnam Digital Communications Association said the law may reduce the gross domestic product by 1.7 percent and wipe out foreign investment by 3.1 percent.
An estimated 70 percent of Vietnam’s 93 million people are online and some 53 million people have Facebook accounts.
Despite sweeping economic reforms since the mid-1980s that made Vietnam one of fastest growing economies in the region, authorities maintains tight control over almost all aspects of life including the media and religion and tolerate no challenge to the one-party rule.