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‘Cyber City Not Possible’: Zimbabwean Tech Experts

Screen shot of plans to build Zimbabwe's new "Cyber City" taken from a video report produced by VOA's Columbus Mavhunga
Screen shot of plans to build Zimbabwe's new "Cyber City" taken from a video report produced by VOA's Columbus Mavhunga

Technology experts argue that Zimbabwe's attempts to build a $60 billion ‘cyber city’ will be unsuccessful and stress over plans by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to put surveillance systems at its heart.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration recently announced that it would be following up on last year’s Zim Cyber City project which was a partnership with Dubai-based company Mulk International, by building a high-tech city worth $60 billion in Mount Hampden.

Mnangagwa’s administration also said the targeted city which was nicknamed “New Harare” due to their plans to make it the new capital, already houses the new state of the art parliament building which was gifted to the southern African nation by China.

James Nehohwa, a political analyst said he opposes the building of the high-tech city and calls on government to invest in upgrading the nation’s underdeveloped infrastructure.

“It’s not wise to start by investing in the city when roads have not been developed yet because you will find that because of the condition of the roads, potholes and all that is causing accidents,” said Nehohwa.

Brighton Mutambara, a resident of Mount Hampden, said he is hopeful that government will follow through on their plans so locals can benefit from the cyber city.

“When construction starts we will be employed for some jobs,” said Mutambara.

The Dubai based company tasked with building “New Harare” said the new capital will have “surveillance technology that is directly connected to law enforcement authorities,” to ensure the safety of residents.

Tawanda Mugari, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Digital Society Africa, said the surveillance of citizens by government is going to increase after the cyber city has been built.

“There is going to be so much increased surveillance of citizens by the government,” said Mugari, adding, “they can use them to their own advantage, to identify people.”

Monica Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s Information minister said the privacy of citizens will be respected and that security systems are to be installed to keep residents safe.

“Nobody’s privacy will be compromised,” said Mutsvangwa.

VOA's Columbus Mavhunga contributed to this report. Information was sourced from Reuters.