The government of Zimbabwe has categorised the spreading of fake news on the coronavirus pandemic as a Level 14 offence, the highest in the country which attracts a penalty of 20 years.
The development was confirmed by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi while speaking to Sunday News on Saturday. He said:
This is part of a Statutory Instrument (SI) under the Public Health Act, which now criminalises the peddling of falsehoods relating to this pandemic. The reason we had to come up with that SI was after we noted the proliferation of fake news, which were hindering the fight against the spread of the pandemic. We are using the Public Health Act which according to Section 68, empowers the Minister of Health and Child Care to make such regulations in times of emergencies, to help contain such viruses.
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He added that peddling of falsehoods can have more devastating effects to the country compared to those that could be posed by the virus itself.
The development comes when there has been an increase in the spread of fake news on social media platforms particularly following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
More: Sunday News