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MPs kick out politically motivated ‘E10million’ fine Cyber Crime Bill

Wednesday, 11th November, 2020

LOBAMBA: Members of Parliament(MPs) came hard on government and subsequently kicked out the now controversial and politically motivated Cyber Crime Bill that was targeting citizens who express themselves on social media and independent journalists.

This comes after vigorous lobbying by vocal Manzini North MP Macford Sibandze, the Chairman of the Portfolio Commitee in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology(ICT) who had earlier expressed concerns during a workshop at Maguga that the law was targeting citizens and the independent media.

On Wednesday, Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo was 'hot under the collar' when making submissions in Parliament, saying in his over twenty years experience as a politician, he has never seen such  Bill with fines amounting to billions.

“It's clear that this is a non-bailable proposed law because eMaswati cannot afford such fines, in my over twenty years of experience in politics, I have never seen such.This bill will affect the youth, so it needs a lot of consultation” said the Lobamba Lomdzala MP.

Mduduzi ‘Magawugawu’ Simelane, the Siphofaneni MP had earlier submitted that it was very dangerous to arm government with such a law because it will use it to suppress the citizens, he described government as ‘brutal’ towards the people.

“We can't arm this brutal government with such a law, it will use it against the citizens, we have seen this happening before” said the Siphofaneni MP. 

Simelane further expressed  concerns with clause 13 of the Bill which among others,  criminalises the use of computers to train and recruit people to join terrorists groups, citizens with different political views and those who criticise the government are classified as terrorists in eSwatini. This means the law was open to political manipulation to target members of the various political parties who express themselves on issues of governance in the country.

The Bill suggests that those with different political views and classified as terrorists might face a E15million fine should they use computers and social media to recruit citizens to join their banned political parties.

Other MPs who spoke strongly against the Bill and suggested that it should be kicked out include among others, Ndzingeni MP Lutfo Dlamini and Maphalaleni MP Mabulala Maseko, the suggestion to kick out the Bill received support from about 90% of the MPs.

After the submissions, Manzini North MP Macford Sibandze said the role of Parliament was to articulate the aspiration of the people, he subsequently withdrew the Bill saying more consultations were needed before it could even be debated by Parliament.

MPs kick out politically motivated ‘E10million’ fine Cyber Crime Bill
Manzini North MP Macford Sibandze