22 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Top Govt, Zanu-PF Officials Scrambled for Alternative Internet, Social Media As Shutdown Persisted

Photo: New Zimbabwe
Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi

Several top government officials who have defended a government freeze on the cyberspace were found scrambling to join ordinary Zimbabweans who had signed up to alternative internet and social media platforms to escape the widely condemned shutdown.

Authorities last week moved to jam the internet and popular online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn to stop the circulation of protest messages among agitated Zimbabweans.

This followed angry protests by locals over a government decision to hike prices of fuel by more than double.

Desperate locals turned to Virtual Private (VPN) technology to circumvent the restriction.

As the restrain persisted, several government and top Zanu PF officials were found migrating to other social media platforms such as Telegram in signs they could not keep out of communication with loved ones.

Among them was Justice Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi who appeared on television together with Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa last week reading the riot act on protestors.

Among those who joined him on the platform were his permanent Virginia Mabhiza, information secretary Sam Kundishora, acting prosecutor general Kumbirai Hodzi together with Zanu PF MPs Phillip Chiyangwa and Kindness Paradza.

Top Emmerson Mnangagwa apologist Killer Zivhu also joined together with state owned ZBC's chief executive officer Patrick Mavhura.

The move by top government officials to look for alternative means of communication while starving citizens of communication has been described by the opposition MDC as "hypocrisy and 'dishonesty".

The misery of Zimbabweans and some of their rulers was ended by a High Court ruling Monday afternoon declaring the internet blockade as illegal.

State Security Owen Ncube Tuesday ordered the shutdown following protests that threatened to overrun President Mnangagwa's shaky rule.

But the courts ruled that the minister did not have the authority under the country's laws to issue directives to shut down the internet or any social media platforms.

Social media was immediately restored soon after the ruling which came after the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had filed a court challenge arguing that the rights of locals were being violated by the shutdown.

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