Updated: Chinamasa begins cyber crackdown with arrest of American citizen in Zimbabwe

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O’Donovan with her lawyer waiting for charges

Police earlier today picked up American citizen Martha O`Donovan on charges of posting insulting messages about the 93 year old president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe.  In a Warned and Cautioned Statement availed to this publication, the police allege that O’Donovan is the owner of the Twitter handle @matigari who is very active on Twitter.

The police allege @matigari shared a  tweet with a caption “we are being led by a selfish and sick man” with a photo illustration showing Mugabe with a catheter.

The detectives who picked her up allege they were tracking her IP address. This comes as a chilling reminder to citizens of Zimbabwe that they don’t have the freedom of expression even on social media platforms.

Recently Robert Mugabe created a new Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation headed by form Justice and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. Asked about the role of the ministry, Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba was explicit that it was meant to deal with voices of dissent on Social Media.

O’Donovan as worked with social media outlet Magamba in a number of initiatives aimed at giving the youths of Zimbabwe a voice. This could have ruffled Mugabe’s feathers.

She is represented by lawyer Obey Shava from the Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights.

Image of her charge sheet