Imagine waking up on the morning of the third day of a mass protest to shut down the country thats turned violent; there’s a message from your service Mobile Network Operator telling you that they have been directed to switch off the internet.
You arent really surprised, because it explains how you failed to reach anyone when you spent the past day trying to contact friends, family and others to see if they safe amidst tales of the heavy handed response by the security forces to the protesters and rumours of horror abductions in the middle of the night…..
Zimbabweans who use Econet mobile network provider woke up to this text message in their inbox:
No doubt the government is pawning off social media and the internet for being used to incite violence and rally protesters by unscrupulous agents bent on causing alarm, disorder and tarnish the country’s image at time the president is abroad, trying to woo investors to Zimbabwe and decided we needed time out ….. from the internet.
Initially, there had been restriction to access on social media sites, namely Facebook, Twitter and the instant messenger platform Whatsapp but someone must have pointed out the futility of such a move as various VPN methods people were being circulated; informing the public on what to do in the event of an internet block and they decided to go the ultimate route of shutting all internet access in Zimbabwe.
Instantly taking us back, years back, in technological advancement, back to the dark ages with the only means of communication being phone calls and sending good old fashioned texts like its 2008 and we haven’t been introduced to basic GPRS packet data service.
Emails weren’t working, online transactions weren’t going through and remember, we live in a cashless economy courtesy of the crippling cash shortages and mobile banking not working because, hello internet……
I feel so blind without the internet, it has come to become an integral part of my existence, I am a digital storyteller after all and the internet is my eyes, ears and at times it’s the cricket on my shoulder on the place where my watchdog should be.
The void that separates us, the internet fills it up, making a bridge imagine, if that bridge just disappears, leaving us in isolated islands of solitude not knowing the welfare of anyone else but yours…..
Our constitution clearly states:
61. Freedom of expression and freedom of media
1. Every person has the right to freedom of expression, which includes—
(a) Freedom to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information;
(b) Freedom of artistic expression and scientific research and creativity
(c) Academic freedom
5. Freedom of expression and freedom of the media do not include—
(a) Incitement to violence
(b) Advocacy of hatred or hate speech
(c) Malicious injury to a person’s dignity or
(d) Malicious or unwarranted of a person’s right to privacy
The government’s shutting down of the internet for everyone indiscriminately, walks is lowkey infringes upon the right to freedom of expression.
Yes, granted misguided elements might have used it to spread inflammatory messages on the social media spaces but would that warrant a total internet shutdown?
If yes, does that mean we should shut down all communications too, if its deemed people are communicating with each other, plotting to protest? How about even declaring everyone walk around with a muzzle and not speaking because some words which come out of people’s mouths would push people to episodes of violence……. where do we draw the line
…….and once they realise they can get away with shutting down the internet, all the atrocities and human right violations they can get away with under the cover of an internet blackout;
what will stop them from switching off the internet with impunity in the future?
At least internet service has been partially restored with restrictions.
….and if one day you stop by my blog and find no recent updates; please check up on me ♥♥♥♥
59 Freedom to demonstrate and petition
Every person has the right to demonstrate and to present petitions, but these rights must be excised peacefully