17 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Govt Defends Condemned Internet Shutdown

Bulawayo — THE Zimbabwean government has justified a blackout in internet connectivity after days of violent protests by citizens over economic problems.

The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting argued the Interception of Communications Act provides for the issuing of a warrant to interfere with communications where among other things, public safety or national security is threatened.

"An unknown number of anarchists attacking everything and everyone is a national security threat," the ministry stated.

The network cuts, condemned by rights groups, were part of a repressive strategy by the administration after countrywide demonstrations greeted a sharp increase in fuel prices.

Internet connectivity has been restored.

"Internet seems to have been restored in some networks in Zimbabwe. This after a 28 hour Internet blackout," the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Zimbabwe stated.

MISA-Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had on Wednesday filed an urgent chamber application challenging the suspension of internet services by service providers following a directive issued by Minister of State for State Security, Owen Ncube.

Former information minister and now government critic, Prof Jonathan Moyo, lambasted Zimbabwe for the blackout.

"The rogue authorities who unconstitutionally shutdown the Internet in Zimbabwe in gross violation of basic human rights to cover up their atrocities should not for a minute think they've done anyone a favour by restoring the internet. Consequences must follow," he tweeted.

Zimbabwe is the fourth African country to block internet access after Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon and Sudan.

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