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Zim: Zanu PF Accused of Altering Document

November 12, 2008

Zim: Zanu PF accused of altering document

Africa News, November 4, 2008

We’ve been blogging about data tampering for a while now, and we often discuss the potential consequences. From lost intellectual property rights and non-compliance with regulatory mandates to e-discovery nightmares, we’ve just about covered it all. This article, however, highlights new potential consequences of electronic records tampering – severe political power and economic ramifications.

This story comes from Zimbabwe, where the chief negotiator for the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Patrick Chinamasa, admitted he changed a signed power agreement and “accidentally” deleted various clauses of the power sharing deal, which was designed to cease economic and political strife in the country. According to the article, the document that had been agreed upon was altered prior to the signing ceremony, blindly tricking the authorities to approve something otherwise unauthorized.

Another article from The Zimbabwe Times provides insight from Welshman Ncube, another Zimbabwean politician, on the clauses of the agreement that were altered:

    The first clause that was altered by Chinamasa was on the issue of senate seats. Ncube said Zanu-PF already had five non-constituency seats. So it had been agreed that an additional six senators would be appointed. Out of the six, four would be from the mainstream MDC of Tsvangirai while two would come from the Mutambara faction. However that paragraph had been completely changed and Chinamasa had inserted a clause saying there would be nine new senate seats, to be shared equally between the three contesting parties.

    Ncube said Chinamasa had admitted that he was the one who had inserted that particular clause, claiming he had been told by his principal, Mugabe, that all three leaders had agreed to this. But Ncube said his own principal, Mutambara, had denied ever agreeing to increasing the senate seats to nine. It is not clear what action, if any, Mutambara and Ncube took to counter this development.

    The second alteration was a paragraph that was completely missing from the final document. The missing paragraph says anyone appointed to the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President would automatically be a Member of Parliament. If that person was already an MP his/her party will appoint a non-constituency MP.

    Ncube says Chinamasa claims the missing paragraph was “deleted by accident”.

    The third alteration was in the form of another missing paragraph in the final document. It was stated in the missing paragraph that the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister as well as the President and his Vice Presidents would sit together to make appointments of senior government employees like Ambassadors and Permanent Secretaries.

    Ncube says the former Justice Minister had claimed the paragraph had been accidentally deleted. Again the Mutambara camp had apparently decided to let sleeping dogs lie – that was until yesterday when Ncube was linked to the fraud by The Zimbabwe Times.

Ultimately, Chinamasa’s confession to altering one of the clauses and deleting the other two may have saved this country from a troubled future. His actions highlight not only the value of the information we store in electronic records, but also the potential consequences their alteration might have. Electronic records of all kinds can be altered if not properly managed or protected – from emails, PDFs and memos to power agreements – and one small change can impact countless number of people (or, in this case a country full of people). The citizens of Zimbabwe should be thankful that the truth prevailed without more severe consequences.

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