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ZIMBABWE: Mnangagwa’s govt stifling critics by shutting down internet, rights group says



Zimbabwe Court rejects opposition bid to annul election result

The move by the government of Zimbabwe to shut down internet services again in the country is aimed at stifling criticism of President Emerson Mnangagwa’s government, rights group says.

Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator has notified millions of subscribers it received another directive to shut down internet access after an unrest was sparked by a steep fuel price increase.

“At 22:05 [on] 17 January 2019, we were served with another directive for total shutdown of the internet until further notice,” the company said.

“Our lawyers advised we are required to comply with the directive pending the court’s decision on its legality. The earlier directives are already the subject of a pending High Court Application. We sincerely apologize for all inconvenience caused by the acts of government which are beyond our reasonable control.”

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On Thursday the United States Embassy in Harare expressed concern over violence in parts of the country, urging all parties to exercise restraint.

“We condemn any disproportionate use of force and call on Zimbabwe’s security forces to respond to civil unrest professionally and with respect for human life and constitutional rights. We are also alarmed by credible reports that security forces are targeting and beating political activists and labour leaders,” it said in a statement.

“The United States strongly supports freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly. People have the constitutional right to protest and express their views peacefully. We condemn acts of arson and looting and threats against citizens. We call on protesters to refrain from violence and threats of violence, which will only cause further economic hardship.”

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