INTERNET service providers and mobile network operators on Monday 21 January 2019 restored all internet and social media services after a Zimbabwean court ruled that Hon. Owen Ncube, the Minister of State in the President’s Office for National Security has no authority to shut down the services.
Hon. Ncube had on Wednesday 16 January 2019 issued a directive to mobile network operators and other internet service providers suspending internet services in terms of a warrant issued under the provisions of the Interception of Communications Act.
But High Court Judge Justice Owen Tagu on Monday 21 January 2019 set aside Hon. Ncube’s directive to shutdown internet services after ruling that the Minister does not have powers to issue the directive under the Interception of Communications Act resulting in an immediate restoration of full and unrestricted access to internet services.
The relief came after Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe Chapter (Misa Zimbabwe) filed an urgent chamber application challenging Hon. Ncube’s directive suspending provision of internet services in Zimbabwe.
In the application, ZLHR and Misa Zimbabwe argued that the internet blockade was a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights including access to information.
Apart from Hon. Ncube, ZLHR and Misa Zimbabwe also cited Isaac Moyo, the Director-General of Intelligence Services, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, NetOne Cellular, Telecel Zimbabwe and Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe as respondents.
According to ZLHR and Misa Zimbabwe, the directive to suspend internet services caused serious inconveniences, loss of business and income, threats to life and the right to healthcare as people were not able to access vital communication relating to their medication among other issues.
In addition, people were unable to access funds remitted from abroad as internet banking services have also been affected.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights