In the pursuit of putting a lid to the spread of fake information pertaining to the catastrophic Covid-19 (coronavirus), the Government of Zimbabwe has put in place a law that attracts an imprisonment of up to 20 years for those who publish false information pertaining to the catastrophic pandemic.
According to the spanking new Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 titled Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020, which was published by Health and Child Care Minister Obadiah Moyo, the 20-year-imprisonment shall be meted on anyone who publishes false information which is prejudicial to the state.
Reads part of the SI:
“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 14 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 years or both”.
Since the pandemic started to take a toll on the impoverished southern African country, authorities have raised concern over unverified information that has emerged from particularly social networking sites such as Facebook and micro-blogging Twitter.
Whilst official Government records maintain that the number of people who have tested positive to Covid-19 stands at just seven, with one Covid-19 death in late journalist Zororo Makamba, reports on social media allege that the figures could be more.