Information and Broadcasting Minister Dora Siliya says the Cyber Security Bill is not only about stoping social media abuse, but also detecting “real threats to a country’s security.”

And Siliya who is also Chief Government Spokesperson says the country would have reached a point of total collapse if government did not go out to borrow in order to keep the economy afloat.

Speaking when she featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Siliya said all countries across the world were tightening up security to prevent hackers.

“Talking about cyber security is not limited to just talking about cyber bullying, that’s just one of the issues of national values, issues of personal rights and defamation and so on. When you are talking about cyber security, we are talking about real threats to a nation and to individuals, that people can plan to murder a person, that people can plan to bomb a country, that people can plan to hack internet security systems, whether it is power, they can hack hospitals. I was just watching on Friday night a program about the US and everything they are trying to do to ensure their power supply in the country continues to remain safe because it is computerised and that the worst danger is somebody hacking into it which would mean not just power in your house, hospitals, trains, aircrafts, security systems. This is the worry of every nation. When we are talking about cyber security, it is not just limited to social abuse, whether it bullying, which is very bad to start with but it also encompasses real national security issues,” she said.

“It’s just not African leaders, because I know that in some corners, some people want to say no, ‘this is just African leaders, they like to spy on their people’. Look, if government wanted to spy on somebody now, they would. If government wanted to check basically, what’s on your phone, even now there is still that power that government has if you are a person of interest.”

She said it was not true that the Bill was coming because of elections.

I find it very strange, Grevazio, that last year, if government did anything, it was because it was elections. In 2019, if government did anything, it was because of elections, in 2018, if government did something, it was because of elections. Zambians, we have to learn to realise that elections are one day, the rest of the five years, we need to be able to have a life and be able to do what needs to be done whether it is work, it is school, it’s business. We can’t talk about elections for five years and every excuse, it’s because it’s elections. Elections come and go, we are now on a sixth President, we are now on a third political party in government, we’ve had so many administrations since 1964, we have had members of parliament whom people don’t even remember some of them since 1964. So, the world will continue and every elected government is elected to resolve problems, is elected to address issues, is elected to anticipate what is going to happen. Look, if government now is diverting a lot of resources towards the COVID-19 pandemic, its not because of elections, it is because it is here and that is what it is, it is here,” Siliya said.

“Just like this year, we are expecting that we will have a bumper harvest compared to what we had two years ago and last year because of the drought, it’s not elections, it is because it is just here. We cannot use election lens for every single thing, it is just unbecoming because Zambians have to eat, Zambians have to go to the hospital, Zambians have to have business, their children have to go to work, life has to continue. Even after the 12th of August, some people, the very next day, we will start talking about government is doing this because it will be elections in 2026. We have to learn to let go and that in between elections, we can’t continue electioneering, there must be work done, we can’t be talking about elections from 2016 upto 2021, the children even wonder now, is election an everyday activity?”

She urged members of parliament to begin taking their jobs seriously in representing their people.

“I think it is time we started taking the job of a member of parliament seriously and that being a member of parliament is about truly representing your people and bringing amendments to the floor so that you can say this is what the people are saying and this is the proposed amendment. This is what Parliament is about. For me who is representing government here, all I can tell you is that we have been watching and watching with close interest, what are the people saying, what are the stakeholders saying, what have they said to us and finally we took a Bill to Parliament. And finally it is up to those who believe that they are representing other views to bring amendments to the floor of the House. All we have heard is that no this bill means that government will be listening to your conversations with your mother. Why would government be interested in your conversation with your mother?” Siliya said.

“The reason why people send representatives to parliament, Grevazio, is so that they represent them, so that if people have issues, the process of formulating laws has stages. That government drafts that Bill, takes it for consultation then after that that’s when it goes to cabinet for further consultation, then after that it goes to Parliament. And even at parliament, during the committee stage, there is a lot of time for any citizen, any interested stakeholder to make their presentations and beyond that, there is even room on the floor of the House for those who have been sent to represent people. Not to walk out, not just to talk but to bring amendments and say, you know what, this is what the people are saying, so let us bring you amendments.”

Meanwhile, Siliya said the country would have reached a point of total collapse if government had not borrowed to keep the economy afloat.

“All I am saying is that they have been sufficient external shocks that as a country we should have really totally collapsed by now but it’s because the people of Zambia are resilient, it is because the government has taken it upon themselves that it is going to provide leadership, even with these difficult times, that we are going to try and survive and get out of this…This is why I find it strange when people are still talking about borrowing because for me, in fact if we hadn’t even done borrowing at that point in 2015, I do not know where this country would be today with all these external shocks that we’ve actually been going through,” said Siliya.

“So, government from its perspective in terms of managing the external shocks and internal shocks, I think government has been on top of the game.”