Zimbabwe: Copac Main Computer Hacked Into


The Constitutional Parliamentary Select Committee (COPAC) is allegedly embroiled in a new crisis, with a source saying that the main computer server has been hacked into and important details changed and 'distorted'. The information on the server contains the views of Zimbabweans across the country about what they'd like to see in a new constitution.

This month in Harare COPAC teams began uploading the information gathered during the countrywide outreach meetings, so that it can be ready for analysis. COPAC said the process would take two weeks, but this latest set back might delay it.

On Tuesday SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said COPAC discovered that the data had been 'distorted' on Sunday morning but was trying not to divulge this latest problem for fear it would disrupt everything.

"The server administrator indicated that there was a problem with the server: information which had been uploaded onto the server was mixed up. For instance, you would get information coming from Murhewa appearing at a centre in Bulawayo."

Muchemwa said that within COPAC it's believed that ZANU PF is behind the hacking of the data to make sure it reflects the party's views, or completely distorts the information so that it is not credible. "Centres which had information which was not actually linking with the interests of ZANU PF, the information was changed and in some instances it was deleted," Muchemwa said.

It's been reported that information from 3,600 out of about 4,600 centres has been uploaded, and that last week a ZANU PF COPAC official was overheard saying this information so far is not favourable towards their party.

"This came as a surprise to so many people who heard that information because they had lied to President Mugabe," Muchemwa said. "He believed that the information which had been gathered throughout the whole country was favourable to ZANU PF, especially on the issue of land and resources."

"But now they are discovering that the survey they (ZANU PF) carried out was misleading for President Mugabe, and they believe within COPAC itself that some elements in ZANU PF could have tampered with the server so that at least the whole process will be rendered null and void," Muchemwa added.

On Tuesday COPAC co-chairman Douglas Mwonzora confirmed that some data has gone missing. "Some of the information in the server is missing. The technicians have attributed this to the system failure. What we were doing is to make sure that the teams authenticate the information that they recovered," Mwonzora said.

It has also been reported that 70 COPAC technicians were fired because of this security breach, but Mwonzora has denied this.

COPAC has already faced many problems and has been heavily criticised. Its outreach programmes were marred by numerous incidents of violent attacks on civilians and MDC supporters, by ZANU PF militants and war vets. COPAC has also been accused of poor management of funds, with its rapporteurs going unpaid and some being evicted from hotels because bills had not been paid.