Update: WhatsApp not working in Zimbabwe on some networks as government blocks the app

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If you’re in Zimbabwe, you’ve probably noticed that you WhatsApp is not working anymore. Several people have contacted us to inform us that their WhatsApp is not sending or receiving messages anymore. We have made some tests ourselves and can confirm that WhatsApp is not working for us too on any of the 3 mobile networks and ISPs we use.

According to the information we have, WhatsApp is currently not working on the following networks:

We have not tested and have not received any information on the other networks so we cannot say at the moment what the situation is with them.

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Update: WhatsApp working on the following networks:

It’s not clear why WhatsApp specifically is the social media service not working. It could be that WhatsApp itself is technically down. It could be that the ISPs are intentionally blocking WhatsApp. It’s anyone’s guess who would have instructed the block.

Yesterday, after several sources told us the government was planning to block access to social media, we contacted the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services in Zimbabwe, Supa Mandiwanzira, to get the government position. He denied that the government had any intention to block social media.

Government will therefore likely deny that they have instructed the ISPs to block access to WhatsApp. In fact they already have. This means ISPs will have not have any explanation for WhatsApp not working except that it’s a technical fault.  And conveniently, they could say it’s hard to fix the technical problem because of the stay away that’s happening today.

To access WhatsApp, social media users will likely have to install VPN apps, which would just make the blocking ineffective.

The country has experienced a number of protest events in the past several days. On 2 July protestors in the border town of Beitbridge demonstrated against new restrictive import laws and the protests resulted in temporary closure of Zimbabwe largest port of entry with South Africa. Yesterday, protests in Harare led to the arrest of more than 30 people. A nationwide stay away planned for tomorrow, 6 July, has also been called for by activists and opposition political leaders.

Several videos and pictures shot by social media users in Beitbridge and in Harare during the protests were posted on Facebook and WhatsApp and spread virally. Some videos showed police brutally assaulting protestors and other videos of protesters brutally assaulting police and journalists.  The blocking of social media is therefore likely meant to stop such user generated content from spreading.

This is a developing story that will be updated as we get more information.

Update: 11:3AM (6 July 2016)
We’re getting reports from several people that they are now able to access their WhatsApp on some networks. We hope it’s back for good but we’re not clear about how long this will be so. We have been trying to get a comment from POTRAZ, the telecoms regulator in Zimbabwe, but they haven’t yet responded to our emails and calls with any comment.

32 Comments

  1. zimbo for life says:

    They can block App but pple will always find other means to communicate

    1. Anonymous says:

      One easy way to unblock Whatsapp is to install a vpn which allows you to access censored apps. I recommend tunnelbear which is available from the google play store on
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tunnelbear.android
      It helps to bypass censored websites.

  2. Simba says:

    Not just WhatsApp. My Telone Adsl can only connect to local banks. And tor isn’t working.

  3. Muzukuru says:

    Think of this as a more dumb version of the US’s FISA warrants. Secret orders. It’s not a coincidence that this coincides with the #shutdownzim campaign.

  4. Muzukuru says:

    To those who are still in the dark http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/free-android-vpn-apps/ just download anyone of these apps and happy whatsapp people.

  5. big muromo says:

    This shows they’re spooked and really shaken now. Things will only go downhill for the regime from here. Pushing people further into a corner will not stop them – they have awakened now. Past the point of no return! #shutdownzimbabwe2016

  6. Finn says:

    Everything is working just fine on Africom.

    1. edna says:

      Africom is the best…

  7. Anthony Somerset says:

    Whatsapp is working via VPN for me – telone network seems to just be down from the outside world

    worryingly telone control the whole .zw DNS namespace so with them “down” it could cause .co.zw or .org.zw domains to start disappearing from the internet if they leave it down for any length of time

  8. Senior says:

    Can someone explain how the government blocked whatsapp? Technically

    1. Russell Mazonde says:

      Its essentially like what you can do on a wireless router where you can block access to certain websites by blocking their names. DNS and IP block. I think

    2. JayJones says:

      It can be done in a number of ways; they can use a firewall or router in their border network to block access to the whatsapp servers using source and destination IP addresses or if whatsapp uses a tcp or udp (most likely) port will block that as well.

    3. Anonymous says:

      They mostly likely gave a directive for operators to block Whatsapp

  9. tend says:

    Powertel should be working as well. At least when i last checked

  10. Kaytee says:

    confirmed not working on netone, but working over VPN.

    no such thing as coincidences people!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Econet Whatsapp and Telecel Whatsapp are both working

  12. justin says:

    Smith is becoming desperate!!!

  13. Stephen Mudere says:

    Android has an inbuilt VPN no need to install. http://www.howtogeek.com/135036/how-to-connect-to-a-vpn-on-android/

  14. Anonymous says:

    Right now its working on my Telecel but not on ZOL

  15. shingi says:

    zvaku maker sense now guys i can smell freedom is coming…keep fighting sons of soil…

  16. Zimbo for life says:

    2 sec to freedom…Go warriors go! whatsapp can not stop a hungry Zimbo!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Pakaipa pakaipa

  18. Anonymous says:

    As normal, the quality of reporting on Techzim is more heresy than informed reporting. Whats app is working!!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      it wasnt working till about 20 mins ago

    2. Anonymous says:

      how is this hearsay when our WhatsApp wasn’t working since 7am? Yes now it’s up but it doesn’t mean it was working all along

  19. Guyguy says:

    For those with android, there are plenty of VPN apps out there you can use. i have used tunnel bear for a while now so you should be able to connect that way

    1. Do not listen to this advice.

      Never install apps from unknown sources. They are a common way of introducing trojan payloads that can do alot of damage from keylogging (to steal usernames, passwords and credit card info) to installing ransomware to hijack your phone.

  20. Sesijikile says:

    I can confirm Telone Asdl was not working (not connecting to Internet) from 07:45 to 11:35am in Bulawayo

  21. School Leaver says:

    state security had instructed operators to block all social media outlets

  22. Anonymous says:

    Use vsat

  23. Dahazbom says:

    Whatsapp is working just fine.

Comments are closed.