Update #1, Wed 7 July, 8.20pm: According to a report citing the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans who share and spread information about the country’s protests will be disconnected from the country’s mobile networks.
“All SIM cards in Zimbabwe are registered in the name of the user. Perpetrators can easily be identified,” the body announced late Wednesday following WhatsApp’s four-hour outage.
“Any person caught in possession of, generating, sharing or passing on abusive, threatening, subversive or offensive telecommunication messages, including WhatsApp or any other social media messages.”
Read the full report over on Fin24.
At around 7am today, the country’s approximated 3.35-million internet users could no longer access WhatsApp or Facebook — two of the country’s most popular social networking services.
“Econet would like to confirm that WhatsApp is currently down. We will notify you once it is working again,” one of the country’s mobile network services provider told TechZim. The publication also noted that the messaging service was not available on “TelOne, Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe, ZOL Zimbabwe, Telecel and Econet.”
Multiple media houses are citing Zimbabwean authorities’ involvement in the the service outage, in the government’s bid to stem the #ShutDownZimbabwe2016 social media campaign. Bulawayo24 is also suggesting that the sheer popularity of the campaign could be driving internet connectivity to a halt.
— Gotwe raMai Goto (@simply_tsitsi) July 6, 2016
There are reports on Twitter that WhatsApp is now accessible to few — including from the likes of Econet, but connectivity remains sketchy for most at present.
@stephengrootes I just chatted to my daughter in Bulawayo Zimbabwe on WhatsApp, so its back up. She’s not gone to work and says it’s quiet
— Vuyelwa (@LadyMaMvemve) July 6, 2016
— Multimedia Teck (@multi_teck) July 6, 2016
Hi @FrankViewZ, please be advised that WhatsApp is now back up. We sincerely apologise for any inconveniences caused. ^FPM.
— Econet Wireless (@econetzimbabwe) July 6, 2016
Feature image: Harvey Barrison via Flickr