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Zimbabwe Military Sees Security Risk In International Cellphone Calls

Zimbabwean military officials want international mobile phone calls to be channeled through state-controlled mobile provider TelOne so they can monitor communications abroad. The demand comes as private-sector operators are asking a court to strike down legislation that would force them to use TelOne's international gateway.

TelOne is the parent company of state-owned cellular operator NetOne.

The Herald newspaper said Zimbabwe Defense Forces Director for Communication Colonel Livingstone Chineka chided mobile service providers for compromising state security by not allowing the military to monitor calls. He made those comments to the Zimbabwean parliament's committee on communications on Monday

The demand for military monitoring comes as the government is embroiled in a court dispute with private mobile service providers opposing the use of a new law to compel them to use TelOne’s international gateway. This would also deliver a huge financial shock to private providers. The law has been suspended pending a decision.

Telecommunications analyst Pater Dobek of the South African research firm African Analyses told reporter Patience Rusere that the military demand could be providing a convenient rationale for the state to monopolize international mobile calls.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 For Zimbabwe...