News Alerts

22 Jan 2019 | 01:17 AM UTC

Zimbabwe: Internet and social media access restored January 21 /update 7

Zimbabwe News Alert

Internet and social media access restored January 21 after court rules internet shutdown illegal; security situation stabilizing but further unrest remains possible

TIMEFRAME expected from 1/21/2019, 12:00 AM until 1/23/2019, 11:59 PM (Africa/Harare). COUNTRY/REGION Zimbabwe

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Event

The situation in Zimbabwe was returning to normal on Monday, January 21, after a week of violent unrest and a corresponding government crackdown that resulted in at least 12 deaths and over 600 arrests, according to rights groups. Social media access and internet connectivity was fully restored across the country on Monday after Zimbabwe's High Court ruled that the government's internet shutdown last week in response to the unrest was illegal. Although internet access was partially restored over the weekend, social media platforms had remained blocked in order to hinder the coordination of violence, according to a government spokesperson. Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa cut short his international travel plans and returned to Harare late on January 21 to address the crisis. Also on Monday, Japhet Moyo - the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's largest labor union - was arrested and charged with subversion for his role in last week's strikes and protests. 

Most businesses, closed during the previous week's turmoil, have reopened, but many people were reportedly stocking up on essential items on Monday in case of further unrest. Despite an apparent improvement in the country's security situation, additional protests remain possible and clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.

Context

On January 12, President Mnangagwa appeared on national television and announced that fuel prices would have to increase by more than 100 percent in the coming weeks to tackle decreasing fuel supplies. On January 13, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions called for a nationwide strike starting on January 14 to protest the planned price hike. Several days of violent anti-government demonstrations erupted in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, and other cities on January 14.

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. 

Advice

Individuals present in Zimbabwe are advised to monitor developments to the situation, to avoid all protests, and to adhere to any instructions issued by their home governments. Due to the ongoing fuel shortage, it is recommended that travelers fill up fuel tanks whenever gasoline is available, ensure a sufficient fuel supply 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. Those planning travel to Zimbabwe are advised to bring a sufficient reserve of US dollars due to the ongoing currency crisis in-country.

 

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