The directive to shut down the internet was ill conceived and illegal. It has consequence not just in losses experienced on the ground and the disgruntlement of citizens but it also has consequence regarding the country’s international perception and the efforts by President Mnangagwa to re-engage the international community.
Some international organisations are expressing their condemnation of the action. Some of the sentiment is coming from what the Zimbabwean government considers to be friendly nations like South Africa for example. Here is the press release sent by the Pakistani Press Foundation informing that they wrote to President Mnangagwa through the minister of ICT:
PPF condemns social media blackout in Zimbabwe
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Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of Zimbabwe has expressed concern over the internet shutdown in Zimbabwe since January 15, 2019.
PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter, has denounced this restriction of internet in the country and called on the government of Zimbabwe to stop targeting public of sharing their views.
According to Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), the country has experienced a complete blackout of social media networks and major websites after public demonstrations against a 150% increase in fuel prices. The protests led to the death of at least eight people and detention of around 200 others.
The online media blackout was confirmed by network measurements led by NetBlocks.
CIPESA and its internet freedoms initiative have joined over 20 civil society organizations and sent a letter to Kazembe Kazembe, the Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security, call on the government to ensure the stability and restoration of internet access.
On January 21, Zimbabwe’s High Court ruled that the government have no authority to force mobile operators to block services.
Over the weekend, internet access was restored only partially, but after court ruling, Zimbabwe’s largest telecommunications company, Econet Wireless, sent a message to its customers informing them the suspension had been lifted and all internet and social media services have now been fully restored.