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A Young Mother’s Job And Livelihood Affected By The Stupidity Of An Internet Blackout

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I have a good friend of mine, married to one of my closest friends. She’s one of the sweetest people I know. I also respect her out of the box thinking when it comes to making a living and contributing to the family income. She has a three-year-old daughter who qualifies to the sweetest list as well. These are real people.

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My friend has a degree in language and linguistics. Besides the tricky proposition of getting a job in Zimbabwe generally let alone when you hold a degree in linguistics, my friend (let’s call her Chido) was not too sure she wanted a full-time job anyway. She wants to raise their daughter more full time and she preferred flexible working hours.

However, working for her is not just about making a living but she wants to contribute to lives outside of her family and to her nation. Chido is also genuinely passionate about language and communication and she wants to keep developing in her profession and to use her knowledge practically.

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The internet allowed her to have and eat her cake at the same time

The perfect solution for Chido came from the internet. She looked around and decided to offer language-related training online. Local clients can reach her and enrol online for her classes. Most of her clients though are in Japan and she is teaching them English.

Her lessons are usually at night after spending time with her family and being in her daughter’s life for every waking moment. She gets to use her skill to help people who need to learn English for their careers and even to migrate to English speaking countries.

For her nation, Chido earns in foreign currency. It may be little but she is proud that she is a net earner of foreigner currency for the country when the majority of people are the opposite.

Then stupidity

Chido works online for companies like Bibo Global, Engoo and Acadsoc. I was sad to hear from Chido that she lost her job on Acadsoc because she was not available for a lesson because of the total blackout of the internet on Tuesday and then on Wednesday.

Unfortunately for my friend even when the internet was restored on Wednesday late afternoon it was switched off again later that night before she had started her lesson on Acadsoc. The government was in effect punishing people for not going to work by switching off work for the few who could still do work from home.

It’s not just Chido

There are a number of people in Zimbabwe who are working online. People of all ages and sexes. Some are doing it because they prefer the flexibility, some are doing it because they get to earn real money and not the make-believe money we have flowing in our bank accounts in this country. The majority could have all these as secondary reasons but the reality is that they are doing it because that’s the only option they have.

Here on Techzim we have shared several opportunities for local developers to work online for companies that got in touch with us from UK, France and Spain. There was particularly a lot of interest at the beginning of last year when there was generally positive sentiment around Zimbabwe.

Some of the recruiters came and set up local offices here to coordinate local developers for outsourced jobs from Europe. The interest waned as the year progressed because of some disillusionment especially after August 1. Blacking out the internet is even worse.

Who in their right mind will outsource their time-sensitive projects to a country that can just decide to switch off the internet when the minister of state security wakes up on the wrong side of the bed?

Zimbabweans are not just selling English tutorship and software development skill via the internet. They are writing, doing marketing, doing data capturing, statistical analyses… We are churning out more graduates than the country can employ every year and we should take the opportunity of selling these skills online seriously. Countries like the Philippines are reaping meaningful rewards from this kind of thing.

The government has been talking about exporting skills outside the country by negotiating and physically sending people outside the country. Are they crazy? We live in the age of the internet, people don’t need to leave the country adding to our brain drain problem. They should work from here, from their homes gaining extra skills that the whole country can tap into easily. It doesn’t happen by switching off the internet.


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17 thoughts on “A Young Mother’s Job And Livelihood Affected By The Stupidity Of An Internet Blackout

  1. What about real shops like OK and Choppies that were closed and burnt by looters didn’t they lose business?
    Is internet the only thing that was affected? Give us a break, report objectively.

    1. Hey Easy Tech,yes vandalism destroyed businesses and that can never be OK. This is an article about the effects of the shutdown of the internet not about what happened prior to it. Violence and vandalism should never be tolerated but at the same time, switching off the internet to stop such violence and vandalism is the same level of thinking as the vandals: let’s dig up this road that robbers use because robbery is a bad thing…

      I am worried though that you called OK and other real shops? So internet businesses are not real? This is the same illusion our government is chasing: big investments in industries that have been obsoleted by the reality of the 21st century.

      Big business can employ thousands of employees but in aggregate terms they never can employ as many as are employed by small businesses even in the United States. This is hundred fold so in Africa and especially in Zimbabwe. You better respect the woman teaching online as much as you respect OK Supermarkets maybe even more

  2. I love this article, my work was affected by the internet shutdown and could not get any work done. Gvt does not realise that shutting down the internet also affects the informal sector to a great margin.

  3. its a big problem even us as forex traders have been affected big time ,we experienced great losses since we where disconnected without notice !

  4. First I want to say whatever the government did they had their own reasons and we must respect that let’s not use harsh words
    but I was so affected by the internet shut down and thanks for bringing in this topic I paid for an online course earlier this month and I recently launched a website,

    I was supposed to apply everything on my website (that’s part of the course) but hey I’m now behind and my hubby had a test (on a different course)the very day the internet was shut.

    We are very affected by the shut down I also do some freelancing on fiverr that’s were I earn mari yechingwa and I disappointed my clients and lost a deal
    A lot of Zimbabweans are earning a living from the net we don’t use the net for socialmedia alone as for me I don’t even have any social media account I use the net for business.

    Our country does not consider internet as something valuable but it is.

    (off-topic ⚠ ) let’s look at the PayPal issue in so many cases we are loosing deals because our country doesn’t allow us to receive money through PayPal

    It’s something that can benefit the country because we would bring in foreign currency but eish in Zimbabwe ma1 Malawi is even ahead of us as far as internet is concerned

    I just pray that soon they will see the real value of the net

    1. I’m smiling you mentioned Malawi, because I’m seriously considering migrating there. My work is based online also

  5. I also work online and my business has been gravely affected. I may not earn enough to survive this month because of the internet shutdown because I only get paid for meeting targets. Im really appalled at this move. I really believe the government has shut down Zimbabwe for business. No nation will be able to trust this country as someone can just turn us off. This really was the last straw. The government has not been able to create jobs for us so we created them for ourselves and we are surviving just about. Im very saddened by this and Im wondering if its worth staying in Zim.

  6. So When people were saying Shutdown Zim whose businesses were they expecting to shut down ? You wanted others to lose out whilst you Don’t feel anything on your businesses?

    We need to be realistic. Its the shutdown that we wanted so we need to feel the pain.

    1. Are you saying the government shut down the internet to aid people to protest because you believe that to be the truth or are you saying it because you want to win an argument.

      The bigger point is this: those who blocked roads to stop others who wanted to go to work were wrong. Those who shut down the internet stopping those who were working from home were also wrong.

      If the internet had blacked out because the telecom workers had not reported to work we would have understood it. We would still have had been mad at the government for causing things to get to this level. My relatives have died needlessly at our hospitals because doctors are on strike and there is no medicine. I don’t blame the doctors I blame the government that doesn’t care about the lives of its citizens because it is constituted of men who go to Singapore for medical checkups.

      They spent USD 4 ,million on Mugabe’s medical bills. The current government did that, not Mugabe’s. Do you know how much of a difference that money can make at our provincial hospitals where people are dying because there are no x ray machines?

      So I say maybe it’s you who needs to check the reality around you

  7. The people who called for a shutdown were teachers n other pple decided to join,teachers chose not to go to work and they are justified and have legitimate concerns but when hou switch off the internet you are choosing for someone who works online who could have chosen not to do any work on their own in support of the shutdown but government forces that choice on them and bear in mind most of these pple bring in the foreign currency that our country needs,individually it might be small but collectively its much. What gvt did is like cutting a tree because it has 4 bad apples and a lot more ripe ones

    1. ZCTU called for shutdown not teachers, don’t lie.
      So the internet warriors wants a shutdown of other people’s businesses, whilst they are here blogging.
      Shutdown is bad for everyone and if brick and motor businesses suffer, then bloggers and others must also suffer, its only fair.

  8. Hi Tinashe. Thank you for this. I also work online & wqs unable to do any work this week. I have a question on something else. Is it possible for the authorities to block the playstore? I have tried to download from 3 different devices over the last couple of days & I am getting an error 400 message. Anyone else having this challenge?

    1. Hey Tibz
      Sorry to hear you too got your work interrupted. I hope this never happens again in Zimbabwe and that the current restrictions will be lifted soon.

      I was with someone who downloaded from the Playstore without a problem. We were using the ZOL network, I don’t know if any of the service providers have effected any restrictions on the playstore. So you can access the store but you can’t download apps? Weird.

      Asking the Techzim editorial team to check this one out. Thanks for sharing

    2. I’ve been downloading from the Play Store with and without a VPN.
      Stocking up on offline games.

      By the way Techzim, can you please do an article on how to legitimately earn money online?

      1. We have written a few on how to make money online but not a comprehensive one.We should do one for sure. Maybe some of the people who have been commenting to this article can help us compile it

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