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Should Zambians trust the Chinese technology giant, Huawei?

By Venus N Msyani

Chinese technology giant, Huawei is currently helping to make Zambia a smart nation. Its products dominate Zambia, leading to a partnership with MTN Zambia, the largest telecom in the country.

In January 2022 MTN and Huawei signed an agreement to introduce a 5G network aimed at boosting internet speed in the country.

Later on, in March 2022 Huawei entered into a partnership with the new dawn government aimed at accelerating Zambia’s digital transformation.

Huawei has offered to provide digital training to students and instructors across institutions in Zambia, construct a premier digital innovation hub to act as a center of excellence for ICT, and establish a Digital Innovation Scholarship Fund under the patronage of Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema, benefitting 50 students each year over the next four years.

The question is, should Zambians trust Huawei? In other words, are new dawn administration opponents safe?

About mid-2019, it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that Huawei technicians helped African governments spy on their political opponents, including intercepting their encrypted communications and social media, and using cell data to track their whereabouts.

Zambian government was cited in the report and that is what is worrying. It appears United Party for National Development (UPND) believes that any wrong that happened under the previous government is justifiable if it happens under the new dawn administration.

If the previous government did, UPND believe they can also do it. As long as they do it less. So far Huawei is receiving a lot of praise from the new dawn administration. Is what has made the past come to my mind. The relationship between Huawei and UPND needs to be monitored.

UPND was the main government opponent at the time of the WSJ report. Growing online criticism may force the new dawn administration to spy on opponents and use the 2019 WSJ report to justify that.

Should Zambians, particularly UPND government critics, trust the Chinese technology giant, Huawei?

Meanwhile, it appears the new dawn administration is unconsciously trying to decriminalize the recording of one’s private parts.

A video of a lady playing with her private parts was recently shared on Twitter and Instagram. The lady in the video looks Like Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) boss Mary Chirwa.

Recording such acts is illegal in the country and many people have been prosecuted because of doing that.
Mary Chirwa has not reacted to the video. However, it appears the majority believe she is the one in the video. They want her to resign.

The new Dawn administration is defending Mis Chirwa arguing that everyone does it. If they succeed, it will mean decriminalization of recording of one’s private parts as will be very difficult to prosecute such an act in the future.

Anyway, back to the question, should Zambians trust the Chinese technology giant, Huawei?