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Econet Zimbabwe seeks court order to block warrant

By , Zimbabwe correspondent
Zimbabwe , 21 Jul 2020

Zimbabwe’s largest mobile phone operator Econet Wireless is seeking a court order to prevent the police from executing a warrant to seize information about its transactions, arguing that this would violate the privacy of the company and its subscribers.

Last week Friday Zimbabwe police issued a warrant against the telecommunications firm to hand over a list of its mobile money transactions and subscribers because authorities suspect it of involvement in money laundering.

Econet was ordered to provide a list of all subscribers, mobile money transactions and financial statements from 2 January to 30 June 2020 “for the purpose of investigating or detecting a case of money laundering.”

The search warrant granted law enforcement officials permission to search the telecommunication firm’s premises and retrieve the data in question.

In an urgent High Court application on Monday, Econet argued the warrant should be suspended while the Court determines its legality at a full hearing in future.

In the court papers the mobile phone company said: “The warrant of search and seizure is unlawful and constitutes a violation of the applicant’s right to privacy and also the right of privacy of the applicant’s subscribers”.

Authorities accuse Econet, Cassava and EcoCash of creating fake digital money and then using this money to buy foreign currency.

Econet spokesperson Fungai Mandivheyi refused to comment on the issue.

Prof Jonathan Moyo, former cabinet minister who has become one of the biggest critics of the president Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government, said, “…. the regime is using a defective warrant: the accused is Ecocash, the data sought is for people who are not accused person. Even worse, the search and seizure is unconstitutional; as it violates the right to privacy.”

Fadzayi Mahere, constitutional law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, added:” In a sweeping, unconstitutional breach of the right to privacy, a search warrant has been granted against Econet Zimbabwe permitting Zimbabwe police to obtain every single e- money transaction pertaining to every customer for the period 2 Jan 2020 to 30 June. This isn’t right. This is a far-reaching breach of privacy. Imagine what Zimbabwe police can do with this authoritarian environment with such extensive data.”

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