Zanu PF text saga continues

Masvingo lawyer, Owen Mafa of Mutendi, Mudisi and Shumba Legal Practitioners approached the High Court suing Econet, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Zanu Pf party after he also got a personalized message from the ruling party.

The message Mafa received solicited his vote for the ZANU PF parliamentary candidate for his area, John Paradza and the ZANU PF presidential candidate President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mafa who is being represented by Dereck Charamba of Ndhlovu and Hwacha legal practitioners did not take kindly to this and he approached the High Court suing Econet, ZEC, ZANU PF and John Paradza.

In the court order Mafa cites Econet and Zanu PF as first and second respondent respectively. Zec and Paradza are the third and fourth respondents respectively.

In an application for a declaratory order (case number HC305/18) filed at the High Court on Wednesday, Mafa said he availed his contact details to Zec when he registered to vote in the July 30 polls, but was surprised to get a message from Zanu PF and Paradza.

“On July 7, 2018, I was puzzled to receive a message from the second and fourth respondent on my contact details that I had solely provided to the third respondent.

“The messages were sent on my mobile number wherein the second and fourth respondent were urging me to vote for them and their presidential candidate Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

“I had not at any time consented to the conduct of the second and fourth respondents. I am advised that the first respondent’s conduct of facilitating the conduct of second and fourth respondent contravenes the provisions of the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Regulatory Circular on Unsolicited Bulk SMS) Regulatory Circular No. 2 of 2013 as read together with Section 4 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act Chapter 12.05 of 2000.

“The conduct of the respondents was therefore unlawful and should be declared as such,” he said.

A political analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity said the ruling party candidates send the unsolicited text messages to individuals who never gave them their contact details.

“The messages were probably sent centrally. Zanu PF admitted to sending the messages but they said they sent to their supporters who had attended meetings within their party cell structures.

“This may not be true since some of the people who got the messages claimed to have never done such. The big question then remains: where did they get the database? A very accurate database that allowed them to address people by name and also to target them for the specific area they live,” he said.

He added that Mafa is not suing Econet for giving ZANU PF access to his data or phone number but for permitting ZANU PF to send the message to him without him agreeing to be sent such messages.

The lawyer refers to a regulatory circular issued by POTRAZ way back in 2013 that prohibits mobile operators from sending or allowing the sending of bulk messages to users who have not agreed to receive them.