Zimbabweans slam government over social media shutdown
06 July 2016, 15:25
Harare – Zimbabweans took to social media on Wednesday to blast authorities over the temporary shutdown of a social instant message app, WhatsApp.
According to a Zimbabwean journalist who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, the shutdown was related to the ongoing police crackdown after anti-Robert Mugabe protests began on Monday.
The journalist said that the shutdown was further exacerbated by the teachers union strike that commenced on Tuesday over unpaid June salaries.
"Yes WhatsApp is down. It is linked to the ongoing unrest," said the journalist.
Reports indicated that locals had resorted to using other social media platforms.
The locals took their fury to Twitter and ridiculed the government’s efforts in shutting down social media networks.
Some advised fellow Zimbabweans on how to bypass the shutdown.
A previous News24 report indicated that police had fired tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to quell rioting against "police harassment" of minibus drivers on Monday. The violence came amid a surge in protests in recent weeks because of increasing economic hardship and alleged mismanagement by Mugabe's government.
An earlier report by Finance 24 claimed that the biggest of Zimbabwe's three mobile operators had confirmed around midday on Wednesday that WhatsApp was down on its network.
Econet, though, did not disclose the reason for the downtime.
"Econet would like to confirm that WhatsApp is currently down. We will notify you once it is working again," Econet's customer care department said in numerous Twitter responses to subscribers.
A strong ally of Mugabe's wife, Higher Education Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, tweeted that the shutdown would reveal who was behind the ongoing protests.
But the minister’s tweet was instantly met with sarcasm by some of his followers.