By Tererai Karimakwenda
04 March, 2011
A Bulawayo man has become Zimbabwe’s first “Facebook arrest” over an innocent comment he posted on the social networking site on the 13th February. Vikas Mavhudzi of Old Magwegwe, is being charged with “subverting a constitutional government” after he posted a message on a Facebook page allegedly belonging to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mavhudzi’s message simply read: “I am overwhelmed, I don’t want to say Mr. or PM what happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey.”
The court was told that police arrested Mavhudzi on February 24th, after receiving an anonymous call that claimed he had sent a ‘security threat’ via his mobile phone. It was only after the arrest that police went through his phone and discovered the message in the sent folder.
Prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa accused Mavhudzi of “advocating or attempting to take-over government by unconstitutional means”. And the state opposed bail when he appeared before a city magistrate on Thursday. Mavhudzi was remanded in custody till March 9th.
Protests against dictators in North Africa appear to have rattled Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, as any discussion of the events there is now considered a crime in Zimbabwe.
A group of activists who gathered to watch video footage of the protests were arrested on February 19 and are still in detention. Lawyers said suspected ringleaders have been brutally assaulted.
Meanwhile there are signs that the Mugabe regime intends to increase its ability to spy on innocent civilians. As we reported on SW Radio Africa this week, the government is allegedly moving at a ‘very fast pace’ with the construction of a secret electronic eavesdropping complex just outside Harare. A trusted source said that the Chinese, who are building the complex, have a system that enables most security agencies to ‘spy at will’ on emails, website visits, social networking sessions, and telephone calls made over the internet on a massive scale.