A total internet shutdown has been imposed in Zimbabwe. A major network provider announced this to its customers, after protests triggered a ruthless security crackdown earlier this week.
The country’s biggest service provider, Econet, sent a text message to its customers informing them of a directive served to them by the authorities: “We were served with another directive for total shutdown of the internet until further notice,” the text message read.
“Our lawyers advised we are required to comply with the directive pending the court decision on its legality. The earlier directive(s) are already the subject of pending high court application. We sincerely apologize for all inconveniences caused by the acts of government.”
The shutdown is a response by the government to the Nationwide demonstrations that erupted immediately after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announce that fuel prices had been doubled in a country that seem to be suffering regular fuel, food and medicine shortages.
On Monday, Trade unions had declared a nationwide strike as demonstrations took place in cities across the nation leading to looting and rioting.
US, and Great Britain have so far condemned the response of the authorities to the protests. The EU on Thursday also criticized the government response to the demonstrations.
“The escalation of violence in Zimbabwe over recent days has been aggravated by the disproportionate use of force by security personnel,” European Commission spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic said in a statement.
“The shutdown of access to the internet should also be reversed.”
Also, the US embassy in Harare said it was “alarmed by credible reports that security forces are targeting and beating political activists and labour leaders”.
Security forces have been accused of indiscriminately dragging people from their homes and beating them and about 600 arrests have so far been made.
The total shutdown may have a very dreadful impact on the economy of the country as most online business transactions would suffer enormous setbacks during the period; bank transactions will be delayed or unfeasible, as money transfers via e-transactions would be impossible and ATM cards would be rendered useless. In a shutdown like this, not only would losses be recorded in individual businesses, the country’s economy is also going to record a drastic downward movement in its GDP. Similarly, online stores and online newspapers will shut down, leaving consumers with the choice of buying on credit or by cash.