Econet barred by High Court from sending COVID SMS updates

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The High Court of Zimbabwe has barred Econet from sending its bulk COVID-19 SMS updates. The story of this affair starts with Sikhumbuzo Mpofu who said that the COVID SMS updates were traumatising and depressing. He then took Econet Wireless to court over the matter and the High Court after deliberations came to the following conclusion:

In the matter between:-



TAKE NOTE that, on the 16th day of February, 2021 the High Court-sitting at Harare before the Honourable Mr Justice Mangota issued a provisional ord as shown overleaf.- – The annexed Chamber application, affidavit’s and documents were issued in support of the application for this provisional order. If you intend to oppose the confirmation of this provisional order, you will have to file a notice of Opposition in Form No. 29B, together with one or more opposing affidavits/s, with the Registrar, of the High Court at Harare with ten (10) days after the date of which this provisional order and annexures were served upon you. You will also have to serve a copy of the Notice of Opposition and affidavit’s on the applicant at the address for service specified in the application.
If you do not file an opposing affidavit within the period specified above, this matter will be set down for hearing in the High Court at Harare, without further notice to you and will be dealt with as an unopposed application for confirmation of the provisional order.
If you wish to have the provisional order changed or set aside sooner than the Rules of Court normally allow and can show good cause for this, you should approach the applicant/applicant’s legal practitioner to agree, in consultation with the Registrar, on a suitable hearing date. If this cannot be agreed or there is a great urgency, you make a Chamber application, on notice to the applicant, for directions from a Judge as to when the matter can be argued.


1. The unilateral uninvited transmission of messages to applicant by the respondent service provider is illegal, wrongful and unconstitutional.

2. The actions of the respondent failing to stop sending unwelcome messages to the applicant after demand violates applicant’s constitutional right of free association.

3. It is declared that respondent’s actions; in so far as continued communication was made to the applicant of traumatizing information, violated Section 53 and Section 57 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 20 of 2013.

4. It is declared that the action of the respondent in unilaterally supplying applicant’s details to a service platform and or a third party for transmission of information unrelated to service provision and transmission of uninvited information is a violation of the contractual relationship between the parties.

Costs of suit at the attorney client scale.


The respondent shall forthwith and no later than 12 hours of granting of this order suspend all covid related messages transmission to the applicant’s mobile number.

Respondent shall pay costs of suit at attorney client scale.


The Sheriff or applicant’s legal practitioners be and are hereby authorised to serve this order on the respondent


I guess it is to each his/her own. We thought that the Econet COVID SMS updates were very useful because not everyone has the data to access the information online. On top of keeping us abreast of what was happening at the front lines of the pandemic, the COVID-19 SMS service reminded us to take greater care of ourselves and those around us.

Clearly this isn’t what they meant to everyone.


What’s your take?

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  1. Another Citizen

    Yes the messages are informational, but Econet should allow their subscribers to block them as they may have detrimental effects on people’s mental health. Not everyone just sees them as a statistic, some people become emotionally attached and it becomes depressing having to read and be reminded of deaths every single day. The lawyer who brought the action actually contacted Econet on multiple occasions to at least stop the messages from coming to HIS phone specifically because he is a sensitive individual, and he isnt the only one, he just knew he shouldn’t be forced to view that information. Econet didn’t heed his complaints so he took it up with the courts. Econet should just allow some people to opt out of receiving these messages, not force them down our throats.

  2. Mugs

    Econet should set up an unsubscribe option and keep the Covid 19 updates manadatory for the public, I can confirm I can take the pain of reading those stats day by day than not be informed and end up relaxing in such a time to be more alert

  3. Imi vanhu musadaro

    MNOs treat subscribers as if the lines belong to the MNOs and you are just tenant. Requests not to receive unsolicited messages are usually dealt with by customer care with a “just block it on your phone” response, despite the network being the initiator or partner.

    In all honesty, subscribers are supposed to opt in to a service, not have a service thrust upon them (regardless how useful one thinks it is) and then opt out. Most times you are charged to opt out, even if it’s just for the SMS. Quickly, those unsubscriptions translate into revenue. Forced and coerced revenue!

    This sets a good precedent. Hopefully, it will lead to a redesign of MNO service delivery and end the similarly annoying, gambling/competition and dating platform solicitations.

    Why are you sending unsolicited messages to join a USSD dating platform to a person who, from KYC, is married? It’s utter foolishness sometimes.

    Zero ethical, psychological or sociological impact assessments…

    1. Anonymous

      Agreed! We don’t need myriad messages and adds coming in unsolicited

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