The Zimbabwean government has ordered internet service providers to shutter parts of the web in an effort to curb anti-government protests, Bloomberg reported. The shutdown affected social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp but also left homes in darkness as people cannot pay for their utilities online. The shutdown follows call by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) for a three-day stay-at-home protest over the drop in living standards caused by a dollar crunch that has sent prices soaring and led to fuel and drug shortages.
Harare and Bulawayo were largely deserted Tuesday as the country-wide protest called by labour unions and anti-government activist entered its second day after a violent start Monday. "Today it’s day two of the Shutdown. We urge workers and citizens everywhere to stay at home,” tweeted the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) which called the protests.
"Our struggle is genuine and there must be economic reforms for the poor to survive." The government was also accused of shutting down the internet with communication on the popular WhatsApp platform impossible from mid-morning and access to social media cites such as Twitter and Facebook restricted.
Mobile phone networks were also partially shut down, with one industry source saying the systems had been jammed and many users complaining of limited access. The opposition said the internet blockade was aimed at covering up a crackdown against civilians by the security services.