Internet shut down as soldiers patrol Zimbabwe streets

A soldier stands before a burning barricade during protests in Harare, Zimbabwe, on January 15, 2019. [Photo, Reuters]

Zimbabwe residents are without internet connection.

Zimbabwe’s military put on a show of force to deter further unrest after at least three deaths in violent protests over steep fuel price hikes, but continuing disorder blocked the flow of key supplies into the country.

Bulawayo resident Addy Kudita said the shutdown lasted two days.

On Wednesday it was opened for 30 minutes.

“They have partially shut down social media platforms. Only those with VPN can access internet,” Kudita said.

So far no civil servants are at work as they cannot access information. This is despite the government’s appeal to resume work.

Zimbabweans accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa of failing to live up to pre-election pledges to kick-start growth, having seen their purchasing power eroded by hyper-inflation, and of resorting to armed forces to crush dissent like strongman predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa has promised a clean break from the 37-year era of Mugabe, who was forced out in a de facto coup in November 2017. But residents said the army was beating up suspected protesters in various townships.

“We are suffering. Mnangagwa has failed this country. Enough is enough, we no longer want this,” protester Takura Gomba said in Warren Park, a Harare township, while retreating with others as soldiers approached in trucks.

Amnesty International condemned the military crackdown, saying at least 200 people had been arbitrarily detained and calling on Zimbabwean authorities to ensure restraint by security forces and respect the public’s right to protest.

Monday’s street disturbances followed sharp increases in fuel prices decreed by Mnangagwa, five months after post-election violence during which six people died when the army intervened to quell trouble.

As security forces faced accusations of heavy-handedness and more protests threatened to break out, Labour Minister Sekai Nzenza announced that public workers would get a monthly supplement of between 5 and 23 percent of their salaries from January to March while wage negotiations with unions continued.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told reporters that a police officer was stoned to death by protesters in Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo on Monday, while two other people died during protests in Chitungwiza, south of Harare, and Kadoma, west of the capital.

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BulawayoPresident Emmerson MnangagwaZimbabwe Protests