!Update: further information from Kwekwe, Zimbabwe:
Tensions are still very high in Zimbabwe particularly in Kwekwe where I am based.Violence broke out between protesters and the anti-riot police in Kwekwe today. Social media platforms are still closed and my fear is there are a lot of gross human rights violations underway and with this internet shutdown the government is trying to hide it all from the international community.
We have received notice from the Institute for Young Women Development that, following ongoing protests, the government has now responded by shutting down the Internet. Read below their notice:
As you may have read in the news, Zimbabwe is currently experiencing protests. Although there were isolated protests since beginning of year, this week’s protests are nationwide. The protests have been triggered by the President’s announcement of fuel price hikes by more than 100% with effect from Sunday night, amid an already excessively high cost of living and an eroded income base. The country’s largest labor movement Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), citizen movements and civil society organisations called for a nationwide peaceful stay away for three days from 14-16January while awaiting the government’s response. Monday morning was however faced with stay always and streets protests which have seen vandalisation of property in some areas. As usual the government has responded by blaming the vandalism on civil society organisations and the opposition MDC. They have also responded quite heavy handedly against protestors resulting in fatalities and arrests(according to state media they have arrested more than 200people by yesterday). Today they shut down internet and mobile networks. The IYWD and ACBOs teams on the ground were gathering information on the situation in the ground so that we could share with you and request for your solidarity in this difficult time. Unfortunately they have not been reachable since morning. I am therefore kindly requesting that you bear with us and stand with Zimbabwe during this time. If possible may you also help us call our government to #RestoreInternetinZimbabwe in your social media and tag us at @YoungWomenInst . I am exploring all possible means to contact the teams and will keep you posted on the situation today as soon as I make a breakthrough or you will hear from my colleagues if they have access.