Zimbabwe court rules against internet shutdown

File: A Zimbabwean man speaks on his phone outside a branch of mobile service provider Econet Wireless in central Harare, June 6, 2014.

File: Zimbabwe's biggest mobile operator Econet Wireless said on Friday the government had ordered it to shut down its internet services until further notice following days of deadly protests over steep fuel price hikes.


HARARE - Zimbabwe's High Court on Monday ruled that State Security Minister Owen Ncube had no power to order the internet shutdown which took place during last week's nationwide protests.

READ: Zimbabwe crackdown challenged in court

"It has become very clear that the minister had no authority to make that directive," judge Owen Tagu said in a case brought by human rights lawyers and journalists. 

The shutdown occurred as the security forces cracked down on protesters following a wave of anti-government demonstrations which turned violent.

READ: Fuel hike sparks protests in Zimbabwe

David Halimana, the lawyer representing the complainants, said the ruling meant "mobile network operators are with immediate effect required to give full and unrestricted access of internet to all their subscribers".

Halimana said that, in terms of the law, only the state president has powers to order an internet shutdown.