Thu | Apr 25, 2019

Zimbabwe in ‘total internet shutdown’ amid violent crackdown

Published:Friday | January 18, 2019 | 9:41 AM
AP photo

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe on Friday faced a “total internet shutdown,” a media group said, after a days-long violent crackdown on people protesting a dramatic fuel price increase.

Badly injured people streamed into a hospital in the capital after alleged assaults by security forces.

“Our country is going through one of the most trying periods in its history,” the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference said in a sweeping statement lamenting the government’s “intolerant handling of dissent” and its failure to halt economic collapse.

Media group MISA-Zimbabwe shared a text message from the country’s largest telecom company, Econet, calling the government’s internet order “beyond our reasonable control.”

The High Court will hear a challenge to the shutdown on Monday, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.

A prominent pastor and activist who faces a possible 20 years in prison on a subversion charge arrived at court, one of more than 600 people arrested this week.

Evan Mawarire has called it “heartbreaking” to see the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa acting like that of former leader Robert Mugabe.

Mawarire is accused of inciting civil disobedience online. “It’s a shame what’s happening,” the pastor said.

International calls for restraint by Zimbabwe’s security forces are growing, while Mnangagwa prepares to plead for more investment at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

He announced the fuel price increase on the eve of his overseas trip, leaving hardline former military commander and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga as acting president.

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