MAZABUKA Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo has alleged that the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) are infringing on people’s right to privacy by recording conversations.

But Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya has refuted Nkombo’s allegation, saying ZICTA does not have the capacity to carry out such an exercise.

Speaking in Parliament during debate on the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Nkombo said this trend had to come to an end.

“I know you work very closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs on this ZTE CCTV that you are mounting in the country and with ZICTA which is under your department. Minister, many people have argued that those cameras are there in order to monitor crime. Well, that is correct, we are also told that ZICTA have this tendency now of recording conversations thereby infringing with the rights of people’s privacy. It is a matter that we have argued even with the people from ZICTA that if this is happening, it better stop. We should not record people’s conversations because people require their privacy,” Nkombo said.

He urged the ministry to take full advantage of the growth recorded in the ICT sector.

“I think that you have made strides in the internet section because of the social distancing and also the issue of people not co-mingling, the world has generally gone into more sophisticated ways of communicating internet, although it is slow but is has provided a solution. And I think that you as minister responsible for that must take full advantage of the growth of this sector,” he said.

He proposed that the ministry should consider clearing the Kafue River and make it navigable for heavy goods.

“My expectation however, minister was that you were speak a little bit more about the other four modes of transportation. You talked about Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, fine. With this COVID-19 in our midst, you will now appreciate that that airport that you built may not get the full potential for this country in terms of being a communicating hub or transport hub in the region and also worldwide. The waterways is something that you did not quite delve on but I want you to know that our rivers require to be cleaned up at every stage. Kafue river for instance is chocked with weed which is commonly known as water hyacinth and it is possible as a matter of fact, we have argued before that if we allow for a bypass at Ithezhi-tezhi, you could actually make the Kafue river navigable that you can move cargo from Copperbelt up to Kafue and make Kafue an inland border so that you can now load heavy stuff in Kafue onward to Chirundu and for export or through Livingstone,” said Nkombo.

“Minister, the rail transport, it is your government that borrowed money from the Eurobond and you put a staggering US$120 million into the rail sector. You know vey well, you inherited this problem minister, I think you should find a way to make sure that the frail transport system starts to function once again in our country and this is the reason why the cheap methods that your government has adopted to build our roads, you see that every three months you are resurfacing the roads especially in cities were traffic generally becomes slow, the rods get damaged due to heavy load and cargo.”

And Mongu Central UPND member of parliament Dr Mwilola Imakando urged the minister to prioritise investments in economic roads as they will give economic benefit to the country.

“When you look at the movement of goods and people, they need an intermodal transport system that provides efficient linkages but at the moment we have serious challenges particularly with economic roads Madam Chairperson. Economic roads leave us wondering whether this ministry does take time to lobby for economic roads. Madam Chairperson, We need to do a lot to create Zambia into a regional hub. There is need for robust resource mobilisation to ensure that most economic roads are passable all the time. There is need to prioritise investments that give us maximum benefit,” said Dr Imakando.

But in response to Nkombo, Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya dispelled allegations of ZICTA recording private conversations saying they do not have the capacity to undertake the activity.

“The MP for Mazabuka central said very important things which I really appreciate and worried me when he intimated that ZICTA may be recording conversations. I think I want to make it very clear that ZICTA is a regulator of the ICT sector, ZICTA is not an operator. Operations of telecoms happen at Airtel, MTN and Zamtel. ZCTA does not have capacity to record conversations, they only regulate the business that goes on in these operators’ and beyond telecoms to ICTs generally,” said Kafwaya.