PIN, GMC raise awareness on digital rights ahead of Zimbabwe elections

Paradigm Initiative (PIN), on Friday August 10, 2023, collaborated with the Gender Media Connect (GMC) to facilitate a session on digital rights for female journalists and women politicians in Zimbabwe ahead of the August 23, elections.

The session alerted journalists to digital rights issues and conscientized journalists on the importance of documenting digital rights stories.

Speaking during the session, PIN Partnerships and Engagements Officer Bridgette Ndlovu highlighted that internet shutdowns and throttling of internet speeds have become a common phenomenon in the digital rights landscape in Africa.

“Digital rights are an extension of human rights. The coming of digital technologies transformed the way basic rights are exercised, protected and violated. In Africa, we are seeing digital rights violation trends leaning towards internet shutdowns, disinformation, misinformation, online gender-based violence and hate speech, which are now occurring during the electoral cycle as political parties and candidates seek to increase their political mileage,” she said.

Ndlovu noted that while civil society organisations have a role in advocating for the protection of digital rights, journalists should report on digital rights violations.

“It is your role as journalists to report on digital rights violations to make communities aware of these challenges. We know that Zimbabwe has shut down the internet before, and as we head towards elections, we will continue to raise awareness on digital rights so that these rights are respected.

Ndlovu also shared that violating digital rights during elections would affect campaigning as political parties use social media to share their political messages.

“Violation of digital rights would also affect the dissemination of messages on civic participation, awareness on misinformation and disinformation and limit access to information of the election process,” she said.

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