Harare—The Zanu PF aspiring lawmaker for Mabvuku-Tafara in Harare, Scott Sakupwanya, is being accused of breaking the data privacy law by clandestinely accessing potential voters’ mobile numbers and soliciting for votes.
Zimbabwe is holding harmonised elections tomorrow—Wednesday.
Sakupwanya, a gold dealer with alleged strong links to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his sons, has been a councillor in the same constituency.
The Cyber Security and Data Protection Act prohibits the use or processing of an individual’s personal and sensitive data without his or her consent.
Personal data under the law refers to an individual’s bio-data that includes name, address, phone numbers, race, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, medical records and marital status.
Sensitive information includes an individual’s political opinions, religious beliefs, membership of a political association and racial or ethnic origin.
Residents of the constituency told NewsHub that Sakupwanya’s campaign team is calling them urging them to vote the candidate, but they are wondering where from and how the gold dealer obtained their mobile numbers.
The campaign foot soldiers, it has been established, have been asking the voters if they are in support of Sakupwanya and pleading with those that are not to vote him tomorrow.
This contravenes sections of the Act that prohibit the holding and processing of personal and sensitive data by an undesignated person.
The team is using a NetOne number (0719116165) to make calls to potential voters in Mabvuku-Tafara.
A female caller who indicated that she was part of the team working in “the office of Honourable Sakupwanya” was by Tuesday making unsolicited calls to voters in the area to woo their votes.
Under the Electoral Act, it is also illegal to campaign a day before the elections.
The campaigners were urging the phone owners to vote for the Zanu PF presidential candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the respective councillors in the constituency too.
NewsHub called the number and a lady initially admitted that she was working for Sakupwanya.
She, however, made a U-turn and claimed that the publication’s reporter had called a wrong number when asked to confirm if she had been calling potential voters to solicit for votes and how she had obtained their numbers.
“Uhhmm, sorry, this must be a wrong number. I don’t work for Sakupwanya,” she said and abruptly hung up.
Victims of the unsolicited calls expressed dismay over the calls.
“I received the call not only once, but a couple of times because I was not forthcoming in promising to vote for him (Sakupwanya). I was left with no option but to block the number,” said a Mabvuku resident who requested anonymity.
Numerous other residents also confirmed having received text messages from Sakupwanya’s team.
The rival opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate for the area, Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwi, alleged that Sakupwanya had been calling voters in the constituency.
He accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of providing voters’ bio-data to Zanu PF candidates.
“Numerous residents have been receiving these calls and texts from Scott asking for votes. But, mind you, it’s not the first time this has happened. Even Mnangagwa and other Zanu PF candidates did it during the 2018 elections.
“They (ZEC) have the voters’ database and are sharing people’s phone numbers,” alleged Kufahakutizwi.
Zanu PF candidates, President Mnangagwa included, were earlier this year and towards the 2018 elections accused of possessing leaked voters’ mobile numbers that they used to campaign with.
Opposition parties and civil society put the blame on ZEC, which they insisted was the only possible source of the data.
The electoral body, however, has denied involvement and urged aggrieved voters to seek redress with relevant telecommunications companies.
In an interview, Residents Associations Coalition for Electoral Reforms (RACER) spokesperson, Marvelous Khumalo, a former opposition lawmaker, told NewsHub that his organisation was worried by the violation of voters’ privacy.
“Our concern as RACER, is on the privacy of voters’ data. Where and how are these candidates such as ED (Mnangagwa) and Scott Sakupwanya accessing this private data from?
“We need institutions such as ZEC, telecommunication services providers and other players to safeguard such private, personal and confidential data,” said Khumalo.
The media-shy Sakupwanya was not picking calls and he ignored the Whatsapp calls sent to him. The messages indicated that they had been read.
Follow-up text questions to the campaign team number were also ignored.