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Zimbabweans switch to telegram as social media remains down

Zimbabweans switch to telegram as social media remains down

While Zimbabwe's High Court determines the legality of government's shutdown of social media platforms, locals have continued to use virtual private networks and now also telegram to continue to communicate.

WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter have been blocked in Zimbabwe for the past six days as authorities contend with widespread protests over price hikes on fuel and other commodities.

Locals have taken to telegram as an alternative application. Experts say it is difficult to block telegram as long as there is internet connectivity, which has also been impacted and remains intermittent.

It was blocked for extended periods of time on two occasions during last week's #Shutdown protests.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa's Zimbabwe Chapter issued a statement which reads: "Today marks the sixth day of Zimbabwe's partial internet shutdown. Social media applications like WhatsApp and Facebook only working via VPN. This afternoon the High Court will decide on whether this shutdown is legal."

Pressure is mounting on the government to lift the internet blockade. There is speculation that the protests and petitions could result in President Emerson Mnangagwa cancelling his trip to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and Misa Zimbabwe approached the courts over the shutdown arguing that it is against the constitution.

On Sunday 20 January, Anonymous claimed it had hacked government websites in the country. "As we did with the Sudanese government, we have successfully taken down 72+ Zimbabwe government websites. This is only a start. Your banking system will also fall soon," Anonymous said in a statement.

Econet and TelOne have openly said the government has ordered telecom companies to block social media platforms.

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