The government is charging gadget owners a licensing fee

In laymans terms, this means that if you were a Zimbabwean citizen and you own a smartphone or gadget with a radio feature or even a laptop that can stream, you would be liable to pay the ZBC a licensing fee.

President Robert Mugabe walks past soldiers as he arrives for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, August 10, 2015. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

No, this is not a prank. A Zimbabwean court has ruled that every Zimbabwean citizen who owns a device that capable of receiving radio and TV signal must pay a licensing fee to the Zimbabwe Broadcast Corporation (ZBC).

The court ruled that all citizens who own such devices, irrespective of the service provider that they use, pay licensing fees to the ZBC.

In laymans terms, this means that if you were a Zimbabwean citizen and you own a smartphone or gadget with a radio feature or even a laptop that can stream, you would be liable to pay the ZBC a licensing fee. Wawu.

In even stranger talk, local news service, Newsday, says that the court ruled that the citizens were not being asked to pay for ZBC service but instead they were being compelled to pay taxes to the ZBC, a state-owned organization, for possessing such devices.

I don't know if this is somehow connected to the recent unrest and boycott of the Zimbabwean civil service by workers in the country but I do know that this is absolutely absurd. How can you ask people to pay taxes for owning smartphones? In 2016?

Innovation Village reports that the ruling was made in a court case involving Bernard Wekare and Musangano Lodge challenging the constitutionality of the provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act on the funding of public broadcasting service.

Obviously this is a move by the Zimbabwean government to stifle the progress of technology and free speech in a country were poverty is rampant and rule of law is a farce. Pulse Tech will keep you updated on the situation in Zimbabwe as it develops.

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