Zimbabwe government orders another Internet services shutdown

Photographs show a protester with a broken leg, another with a split lip, and others of protesters being arrested.

In 2011, the United Nations declared access to Internet a human right, making the shutting down of Internet by member States a violation of worldwide law. But frustration has reached new highs as Zimbabweans sleep in their cars in hours-long fuel lines that have replaced hours-long bank lines as the country's symbol of despair.

Police have so far only confirmed three deaths. The NGO Forum says at least 12 people were killed.

The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has said it had treated 68 cases of gunshot wounds and 100-plus other cases of "assaults with sharp objects, booted feet, baton sticks".

It came as the United Nations human rights office called on the government to "stop the crackdown against protesters" and "excessive use of force" by security forces, including firing live ammunition.

Security forces in Zimbabwe have been accused of carrying out night raids and beating suspected protesters in their homes, according to human rights groups. Some 700 activists were reportedly arrested, including several lawmakers from the opposition MDC party and a prominent Mugabe critic, pastor Evan Mawarire.

Charamba told the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper the government would review some provisions of the constitution adopted in 2013, which he said were being abused by proponents of democracy. "We don't know what is criminal about that".

Nationwide demonstrations erupted on Monday after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said fuel prices would double in a country which suffers regular shortages of banknotes, fuel, food and medicine.

The main opposition MDC party, which had contested Mnangagwa's narrow election win previous year in court, "is hoping to influence the worldwide community's view of Zimbabwe". Initially, Mnangagwa was seen as a more liberal leader.

South Africa, where hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have fled to seek work over the last 20 years, said Sunday that it was working to assist its neighbour, without giving details.

Mavhinga said the current economic crisis in Zimbabwe could affect the African region if not addressed.

Before the family knew he had been killed, social media in Zimbabwe was circulating a photo of his battered body lying on the reception counter of a local police station. The internet was blacked out for much of the day, until authorities began gradually lifting a ban that had disabled some electronic communications in the country since Tuesday.

  • Joey Payne