It’s been three days since the start of the nationwide internet shutdown in Zimbabwe as the government attempts to contain a national strike that affected banks, schools and businesses in the capital Harare and the second city of Bulawayo.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is leading the three-day stay-at-home protest over the sharp drop in living standards caused by a dollar crunch that has sent prices soaring and caused shortages of fuel and drugs frustrating most of the citizens who have to squeeze out money they don’t have to afford the inflated prices.
Several people were killed and some 200 arrested during Monday’s protests, which followed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to hike the price of fuel in an attempt to tackle the southern African country’s worst economic crisis in a decade, according to AfricanNews. The president’s announcement came after fuel shortages which began in October last year worsened in recent weeks with motorists sometimes spending nights in fuel pump queues that stretch for kilometres.
In a televised address, Mnangagwa said prices of petrol and diesel would rise from $1.24 a litre to $3.31 (2.89 euros) and diesel from $1.36 a litre to $3.11.
Major mobile network providers, Econet and TelOne, apparently shutdown Internet services following a directive from the government, Pindula News reports. Over 65% of the active mobile network subscriptions in Zimbabwe are on the Econet Wireless network.
The internet shutdown has Zimbabweans downloading verified virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent the issue and have begun to circulate how-to guides on social media with fellow Zimbabweans.
— TeamPachedu (@PacheduZW) January 14, 2019
— Sphelele (@SpheDludla) January 15, 2019
Zimbabwean President @edmnangagwa says he is “deeply saddened” by violence at protests which erupted after his decision to more than double the price of fuel. The statement was published on social media, but many people on #zimbabweshutdown say social networks are still blocked. pic.twitter.com/ggKkbglDUL
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) January 16, 2019