The EU’s investigation of Elon Musk for X’s failure to tackle misinformation is affecting his other company Starlink ’s operating licence application in Zimbabwe.

In a Q&A parliamentary session yesterday, October 11, member of parliament Supa Mandiwanzira suggested that the European Union’s investigation of X for misinformation should be factored in the vetting process for Starlink’s operation licence application in Zimbabwe.

Mandiwanzi argued that because Musk’s X is being used to allegedly disparage the country’s leadership, including president Emerson Mnangagwa, Starlink, by virtue of being associated with Musk, should also be scrutinised on the basis that its founder is being investigated by the EU, albeit on separate issues not in any way associated to Starlink.

“Given the misinformation concerns raised by the EU regarding one of Elon Musk’s channels, I wanted to ask the minister of ICT whether the action by the EU will be considered when deciding whether to license Starlink?” asked Mandiwanzi.

In response, Zimbabwe’s minister of ICT, Tatenda Mavetera, stated that X’s reported issues should not impact the application process for Starlink as it’s a separate company, albeit with the same owner.

In another question to the minister, Mandiwanzira also sought to know if, like the EU which announced that X might incur penalties of 6% of its revenues for failing to regulate misinformation, Zimbabwe would also enforce the same punishment. Mandiwanzira again cited the alleged abuse of the country’s president and other politicians on X. In response, Mavetera stated that X would be regulated by the country’s Cyber Protection Bill and that should any of those alleged cases be proven, the platform would be punished as per the aforementioned legislation.

Regarding the current status of Starlink’s application, the minister stated that Starlink has not paid any fees associated with the application and, hence, the company is yet to be issued an operating licence. 
Last month, Zimbabwe’s minister of information, publicity, and broadcasting services, Jenfan Muswere, confirmed that the country’s communications regulator had received an application for an operating licence from Starlink. Additionally, Muswere added that the application is currently being reviewed by the Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ).

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