Zimbabwe has blocked up the internet once again, as the government seeks to contain the spreading of information through social media platforms. Photo: AP

MUSSINA – Zimbabwe has blocked up the internet once again, with all online services now down as of late Thursday night as the government seeks to contain the spreading of information through social media platforms.

On Wednesday the government had restored internet connectivity although social media platforms had remained offline. Zimbabweans had started to access social media platforms through Virtual Private Networks which ride on internet connectivity to circumvent blockage of some online platforms.

Econet Wireless has send out a message to subscribers saying it has been ordered to close down all internet connectivity. This comes a few days after Zimbabwe suffered mass protests over fuel price hikes.

“At 22:05 17/01/2019 we were served with another directive for total shutdown of the internet until further notice. Our lawyers advised we are required to comply with the directive,” Econet said in a texted message.

The Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) said yesterday through its lawyers that it was approaching the courts to have the government unblock social media accessibility.

However, there have been complaints that some of the VPNs are no-longer allowing some users to access social networking sites. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe Chapter has written to State Security Minister, Owen Ncube, saying the shutdown of the internet and social media services violates constitutional provisions.

“(This) amounts to administrative conducts which is not lawful, efficient, reasonable, proportionate, impartial and both substantially and procedurally fair. Such conduct is clear violation of universal fundamental rights recognized by various international law instruments and in the constitution of Zimbabwe,” said lawyers from Atherstone and Cook in their letter to Zimbabwe State Security Minister, Owen Ncube and Econet, the biggest telco in the country.

Econet has acknowledged that there is “a pending High Court Application” against the directive to terminate social media accessibility. The Zanu PF administration had already been criticised for restricting access to online connectivity.

“The earlier directives (to cut internet and social media connectivity) are already the subject of a pending High Court Application. We sincerely apologize for all inconvenience caused by the acts of government which are beyond our reasonable control,” reads the text by Econet.

Multiple internet users in Zimbabwe confirmed by phone on Friday morning that all internet connectivity had been terminated. Other sources said the government had terminated all online connectivity to prevent people from accessing social media networks through VPNs as Zimbabwe remains on edge following this week’s deadly strike action.

President Emerson Mnangagwa has been urged to cut his international trip and come back home to resolve the crisis.

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