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Zimbabwe News Alert

Zimbabwe: Internet shutdown continues January 18 /update 6

Telecommunications disruptions continue as high tensions persist across the country January 18

18 Jan 10:48 AM UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 1/18/2019, 12:00 AM until 1/21/2019, 11:59 PM (Africa/Harare). COUNTRY/REGION Zimbabwe
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Event

Tensions remain high across the country, despite a relative calm reported on Thursday, January 17, and in the morning (local time) of Friday, January 18, following three days of nationwide strike and protests to denounce fuel price hikes. The national largest telecoms company confirmed it has been forced on Friday to shut down internet services until further notice, after services were briefly restored on Wednesday, following a two-days shutdown. Continued telecommunication disruptions are therefore possible in the coming days.

Businesses, banks, and schools have gradually reoponed on Thursday, and public transport services have resumed. Police forces are, however, still reportedly patrolling the streets of the capital Harare as of Friday, where long queues at petrol stations and retail stores have been reported as people sought to stock up on food in the event of further strike and unrests.

Further protests are likely to take place in Harare and other major urban centers in the coming days, as protesters have indicated further actions will be held until their demands are met. A heightened security presence, along with associated business and traffic disruptions, is likely in major cities in the event of further protests. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.

French authorities have advised their nationals to postpone any travel to Zimbabwe until the situations fully stabilizes.

Context

Violent anti-government demonstrations erupted in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, and other cities on January 14-16, amid a three-day general strike called by labor unions and civil society groups. At least three people were killed, several others wounded, and over 600 people were arrested by security forces, including a prominent activist pastor over inciting public violence.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa told reporters in Moscow on January 15, that his administration would not back down from the fuel price hikes, prompting concerns over the potential for further protests beyond the general strike.

On January 13, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's largest trade union confederation, called for a nationwide strike to be held starting on January 14 to protest a planned increase in fuel prices. On January 12, President Mnangagwa announced on national television that gasoline and diesel fuel prices could increase by more than 100 percent in the coming weeks to tackle decreasing fuel supplies.

Nationwide fuel shortages have been ongoing over the past month due to importers' inability to secure foreign currency amid a long-running currency crisis. The country has been experiencing a deteriorating economic situation for more than a year, due in part to a lack of liquidity. 

Advice

Individuals present in Zimbabwe are advised to fill up vehicle tanks whenever gasoline is available, ensure a sufficient level of fuel reserves before embarking on long journeys, and postpone nonessential travel until the situation stabilizes. It is also advisable to be vigilant at gas stations, where confrontations between drivers are possible. Furthermore, individuals are advised to closely monitor developments to the situation and avoid any associated protests due to the risk of violence. Those planning travel to the country are advised to bring a sufficient reserve of US dollars.

 

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