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Director, Data Protection Authority- POTRAZ, Tsitsi Mariwo. Pic By Shingirai Vambe

POTRAZ Gears Up For The Data Protection Awareness Program

By Shingirai Vambe

Masvingo and Manicaland provinces have become the first to benefit from a sensitisation program on the Data Protection Act and Cyber-crimes, aimed at educating citizens about their rights and potential pitfalls in the digital world. This initiative comes as Zimbabwe lags behind other countries in embracing technological innovations and addressing related challenges.

In response to the exponential growth of digital connections post-COVID, authorities enacted the Data Protection Act and Cyber Protection Act (12:07) in 2021. The goal is to safeguard citizens from technology abuse, cyberbullying, and other harmful activities.

Postal Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has taken the lead in educating citizens about lesser-known cyber-crimes. Advocacy and Compliance Officer, Komborerai Manenji, from POTRAZ highlighted that even accessing a spouse’s mobile device without consent is a criminal offence, punishable by fines or imprisonment.

Director Data Protection Unit, Tsitsi Mariwo emphasised the importance of responsible digital citizenship, warning that failing to control personal information can lead to identity theft, cyberbullying, and fraud. She stressed that data protection requires a multi-sectoral approach and shared responsibility.

Workshops held in Masvingo and Mutare brought together security personnel, civic society organisations, and human rights groups to raise awareness about potential digital pitfalls. These include unknowingly committing crimes through social media or facing legal consequences for actions taken by family members.

Mutare residents following proceedings at Meikles park road-show, while reading the brochures they received from the POTRAZ team. Pic by Shingirai Vambe

While only 52% of citizens are digitally connected, largely due to the high cost of smartphones, POTRAZ aims to extend these trainings to district and rural areas. Director Mariwo also emphasised the need for companies and organisations to appoint data protection officers to safeguard information.

POTRAZ has partnered with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) to train and certify individuals in data protection and forensic investigations.