Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Police demand Biti phone register

By Lance Guma

A campaign to vilify and tarnish the image of Finance Minister Tendai Biti has escalated, with the police now demanding that mobile phone operator Econet hand over his call register. Reports suggest a covert operation by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which is trying to smear Biti and several other MDC leaders with stories of alleged affairs and other sex traps.

Biti has been the subject of an escalating hate campaign directed by Mugabe
Biti has been the subject of an escalating hate campaign directed by Mugabe

Biti’s lawyers have already written to Econet protesting any possible release of his private communications. Econet, in responding to the letter, have also confirmed that Biti’s letter came four days after they had received the police request. Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni said they would “act in compliance with its operating licence and/or any lawful legislation governing the release of such information.”

That answer did not satisfy Biti and on Tuesday last week he approached the High Court seeking an interdict preventing Econet from disclosing any information about his phone lines “without a valid court order”. Biti says the police are trying to abuse their position by claiming they are investigating criminal activities.

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“I understand and believe that certain members of the police have clandestinely approached the magistrate with a view to obtaining a search warrant. It is my respectful submission that such conduct would be unlawful, as it is against the provisions of the Interception of Communications Act,” Biti said in his affidavit.

The MDC-T Secretary General also fears Econet will be bullied into submitting the information and his “constitutional right to privacy would be unjustifiably interfered with and, in addition, vital information pertaining to the organisations I am heading will be unlawfully accessed,” he said. All this he said would jeopardise his party’s position and “may be used to the detriment of his ministry.”

A few weeks ago the state owned Sunday Mail newspaper published an article claiming Biti was having an affair with an economist in his ministry. The paper went on to publish phone numbers which it claimed belonged to Biti and were used to communicate with the alleged mistress. Biti has denied the affair but it appears the police are demanding the call register to try and bolster the smear campaign.

Biti has been the subject of an escalating hate campaign directed by Mugabe. Following a bust up between Biti and Mugabe in a meeting, a petrol bomb was thrown at the durawall of his house and ZANU PF has sponsored several demonstrations at his office. Additionally a senior police chief recently asked traditional chiefs and headmen in Murewa to generate lighting to kill Biti, claiming civil servants will never get a decent wage as long as he is Finance Minister.

Over the weekend the state media reported that five employees in Biti’s Ministry had been arrested and detained on Thursday and Friday on “allegations of taking unauthorised trips and violating purchasing procedures.” SW Radio Africa understands those arrests will be used to justify the police request for Biti’s telephone communications from Econet, even though the focus is on the smear campaign that involves the alleged affair. SW Radio Africa