When the government of Zimbabwe tried to curb freedom of speech by turning the internet off, the country had been ready for it. Briefly.co.za explores how Zimbabweans beat the government at their own game.
Following a staggering 120% fuel hike, implemented by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, riots had broken out across the nation of Zimbabwe.
Information started to flood the outside world, putting the critical state of things on display through Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp.
The government had been losing the fight to contain worsening riots who had moved from the suburbs of Bulawayo and Harare and into the cities' CBDs.
Before long, Minister of State Security Owen Ncube gave the order to network providers to cut off the internet.
Luckily, the news of this impending shutdown had spread hours before the decision had been taken and social media activists in the country had shown people how to bypass state censorship through VPN ( Virtual Private Network).
On Tuesday morning, Zimbabweans had woken up to a complete shutdown. Those who had heeded the call to download the VPN settings had stayed connected. On Wednesday the internet had been restored briefly, but it gave more people the opportunity to download the settings.
One journalist commented that:
“It’s impossible to keep us out now. If they block a VPN server, there are many out there and most of them are all over the world. The one I’m using is based in Japan,”
There have been at least three fatalities and over 100 injuries in the protests against the government. Doctors talk of evidence of gunshot wounds as well as dog bites.
Nonetheless, social media was out of reach for numerous people in the country.
For a few people, despite the VPN settings, using WhatsApp has been difficult because of slow connections. In this instance, applications such as Telegram, provided a much needed relief.
A journalist had commented that:
“Some of these repressive governments can do all they want and spend millions of dollars on jamming equipment that can be bypassed by a 20 megabyte application available on Google Playstore,”
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