Lawyers and a media advocacy group in Zimbabwe have asked the high court to declare the shutdown of the Internet illegal after the government blocked access to most social media services last week.
The shutdown has caused loss of business and income and threats to life, according to the urgent application filed on Monday by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Zimbabwe unit of the Media Institute of Southern Africa.
The legal action is directed at the three mobile networks operating in the country, including Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, as well as President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the national security minister and the head of the intelligence services.
The country’s biggest mobile phone operator, Econet said last week that Facebook, WhatsApp, Youtube and Twitter had been blocked on government instructions. At least 12 people were killed during a police crackdown meant to end nationwide protests against a 150% hike in the price of diesel and gasoline.
A spokesman at Econet’s Johannesburg office said on 18 January that the company can’t respond to criticism in Zimbabwe or on social media. — Reported by Brian Latham, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP