Koliwe Majama

Digital Rights and Policy Specialist

Digital Rights and Policy Specialist, Koliwe Majama is featured in a recently released documentary entitled Media Capture in Zimbabwe: Fact or Fiction?  which probes the independence of the mainstream media in Zimbabwe dating back to before Independence in 1980. In the documentary produced by the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe and Content Creators Network ZW, Majama explains how the current media reforms have resulted in the consolidation of ownership of the broadcasting sector with a few individuals and organisations linked to the ruling ZANU PF party and the military now in control of the newly licensed radio and television stations in the country. Majama blames the Broadcasting Services Act for entrenching the media capture by among others not ensuring the independence of both the new stations and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) members who issue out licenses. She said although the new digital platforms have expanded the media sector, Majama bemoans the fact that these have not been able to effectively counter the media capture because of the tendency of being inclined to be politically correct, follow commercial interests and replicate mainstream media while ignoring hard hitting investigative and corruption stories.

Zimbabweans are learning to utilise social media to speak about their repressive government and fight for better policies.

In an episode of The Breakdown, a program hosted by BBC Africa, Koliwe Majama is featured offering input on the impact of disinformation and misinformation on our understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At this year’s Global Media Forum (GMF) 2020 sponsored by DW’s Akademie, Koliwe and three other panelists spoke on the increasing importance of media and information literacy as a critical tool in this digital age amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other issues Koliwe highlighted the need for “community networks” in a continent where many African states control which information is made available to the public, and not all countries have economies strong enough to set up a digital infrastructure, leaving young people in danger of believing false reports and rumors that cloud their minds.

Read more expansive coverage on the session on the DW website.

Zimbabwe’s leading civil society groups have petitioned the High Court seeking to block a lower court order requiring Econet Wireless to hand over its subscribers information.

In October 2019, South Africa passed an updated version of its cyber law that include provisions that specifically criminalise non-consensual pornography (commonly known as revenge porn).

Koliwe Majama, an African media, internet and communications expert says the sharp rise in technology-related violence against women and its normalisation has made the use of the Internet a gendered issue.

The increased internet related violence against women is a patriarchal manifestation prevalent across Africa and needs women to stand up according to a cyber expert.

When a deputy headmaster at one of Zimbabwe’s top schools recently came out as gay, he faced a backlash that revealed a deep-seated homophobia. One Zimbabwean decided to stand up and out in support of the LGBTQI+ community in general and GALZ in particular.

In case you missed the story that made international headlines in September 2018, Dr Neal Hovelmeier, adeputy headmaster at one of Zimbabwes private schools, came out as gay.

According to the ZimbabweConstitutionof 2013, same-gender marriage is illegal. The nationsCriminal Law (Codification and Reform) Actcriminalises sexual relations between men. This is the case whether the sexual act is consensual or forced. While the Act does not criminalise sexual relations between women, it does mention that forcing oneself onto another woman or a child is a punishable offence.

HARARE-A research project by a Zimbabwean digital rights expert Koliwe Majama has revealed that violations and stigma on sexual minorities are rife online as they are offline despite the internet being an enabler of social inclusion.

Majama on Monday 03 Dec launched her research findings under the title The pitfalls of internet as a development tool , a study of the politics of internet use by gender and sexual minorities in Zimbabwe which establishes that these communities are increasingly accessing the internet actively mainly on WhatsApp and Facebook but there is still a backlash from the society online.

This week Koliwe Majama released a report investigating how sexual minorities in Zimbabwe experience the internet. The good news is that the majority of the people who took part in the study consider the rights of gender and sexual minorities to be an important issue. They recognized the need for the law and policy in the country to promote and protect the rights of these marginalised groups in order for them to enjoy their rights the way other citizens do. Participants said they would openly and actively advocate for the rights of sexual minorities. The bad news, is that were a long way from that being the case. During the discussion groups, participants discussed their experience of discrimination on the internet. LGBTQ and sex worker participants said that the discrimination and harassment they face online reflects their vulnerability in daily interactions offline in the communities where they live. The focus groups surfaced a variety of different abuses experienced online by sexual minorities in Zimbabwe. The most frequently experienced violations were: Hate Speech; Stalking; Hacking; Bullying; and Censorship.

For the LGBTQ community especially, hate speech was a common feature in their daily online interaction on open pages and public platforms. The participants said homophobic hate speech was used directly against those who were open about their sexuality and interacted on more public platforms such as Twitter. They said it was not unusual for one to be called out on their sexuality with reference to the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah or cultural unacceptability. Terms ngochani and stabane were thrown around even in conversations not related to sexuality issues. Often the group was reminded that they should be cast out or burnt as their sexuality was not recognized constitutionally. The LGBTQ community also noted the fact that closet community members would often be some people in their community who would openly attack them on a public debate in order to protect themselves from being seen as supporting the community.

Participants in the research shared a number of recommendations to advance the rights of gender and sexual minority groups online and offline. One recommendation was the decriminalisation of same sexual conduct and sex work, for example legislation that protects the LGBTQ community from discrimination by health service providers, law enforcement agents and society more broadly. Another recommendation was for explicit guarantees of the rights of gender and sexual minorities, for example the right to non-discrimination on the basis of sex work and sexual orientation, and the right to equitable access to information from the relevant public institutions working on sexual reproductive health issues.

Action: Access the full report here Share your thoughts and feedback with us on info@kubatana.net

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