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Connectivity under siege: Right2Know petitions Zim govt

Connectivity under siege: Right2Know petitions Zim govt

As the Zimbabwe anti-government protest enters its third day, following a sharp rise in the price of petrol, twenty civil rights groups – including the Right2Know Campaign – have sent a letter to authorities to restore access to the internet and social media sites.

Media reports on Tuesday 15 January 2019 detailed how local mobile phone networks and internet were partially shut down following protests.

Eyewitness News reported that citizens are paying 150% more for fuel following a televised announcement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the price of petrol and diesel would more than double to tackle a shortfall caused by increased fuel usage and illegal trading.

In a petition spearheaded by the #KeepItOn coalition and sent to Zimbabwe's Minister of Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security Kazembe Kazembe, organisations stated: "The open internet has fostered unprecedented creativity, innovation, and access to information and to other kinds of social, economic, cultural, and political opportunities across the globe. The technical means used to block access to information online often dangerously undermine the stability and resiliency of the internet.

They added: "Internet shutdowns must never be allowed to become the new normal. The current economic crisis in Zimbabwe will be further exacerbated by internet shutdowns. We estimate the shutdown will cost your country $5,742, 421 per day in direct economic costs, and will slow the realisation of economic, social, and cultural rights broadly."

According to organisers of the Right2Know Campaign internet shutdowns "are an outrageous attack on people's right to know."

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