Tuesday , January 26 2021

Zimbabwe court says internet shutdown illegal as more civilians detained



HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe's government overheated its mandate in ordering an internet blackout during civilian protests last week, a court ruled on Monday, as authorities pressed on rounding up opposition figures blamed for the unrest

A man checks his mobile phone, in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 21, 2019. REUTERS / Philimon Bulawayo

In his interim ruling, High Court Judge Owen Tagu said mobile operators promptly and unconditionally resume full services. The biggest, Econet Wireless, compiled with the order late on Monday, it said in a message to subscribers.

The sporadic blackout began on Tuesday.

With the authoritarian rule of critics, Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of critics accused the world of broadcasting a security clampdown to prevent the shutting off the Internet.

Mnangagwa was due back in Zimbabwe on Thursday.

There was no immediate comment from the government's lawyer

On Monday police arrested Japhet Moyo, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, who called for a stay-at-home strike last week in conjunction with the fuel protest.

He faced subversion charges, his lawyer said, while the organization's president was in hiding.

Police say three people died during the unrest, but lawyers and points of evidence were pointing to evidence at least a dozen were killed, while scores were treated for gunshot wounds and hundreds of public order charges on hold.

They include six opposition lawmakers, one of whom was detained on Monday, as well as pastor Evan Mawarire, a rights activist and critic of former leader Robert Mugabe held on the subversion charges for urging support for the union strike.

His application for bail will be heard on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

'DISMANTLING' THE MDC?

The spokesman for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said that many of its leaders were also hiding, and accused the president – – nicknamed "Crocodile" during his time as a high-ranking official in Mugabe's strong-arm administration – of seeking "dismantle" the party

A spokesman for Mnangagwa, who became leader after Mugabe was forced out in November 2017, said on Sunday that the crackdown was a foretaste of powers.

With high inflation and a shortage of cash in circulation eating into ordinary Zimbabweans' spending power, the fragile state of Zimbabwe's economy was also focused on Monday.

The main teachers union said after a weekend meeting that its members remained "incapacitated" until the government made a meaningful adjustment to their salaries.

Slideshow (7 Images)

The President broke off a foreign trip during which he was expected to pitch for investments at the World Economic Forum in Davos. A foreign ministry source said he was now back in Harare on Monday night.

Earlier in the day, South Africa said it was last month turned down a request from its northern neighbor for a $ 1.2 billion loan.

As many businesses, including banks, shops and government offices re-opened in Harare on Monday, the government introduced subsidies for bus travel after public taxis increased prices in the fuel price hike.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; writing by John Stonestreet

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