By Daniel Chigundu
Digital Communication Network (DCN) Africa has condemned the recent internet shutdown in Zimbabwe adding that it is nothing short of human rights violations and a ploy to cripple journalists from effectively doing their work.
The Zimbabwean government imposed a total internet shutdown as a way of preventing transmission of information on the fuel protests that were happening across the country which ended up being violent to the extent of claiming lives of some individuals.
The shutdown ended up affecting businesses and even journalists from doing their work in the country.
In a statement the organisation which is a group of 500 journalists, digital communicators, media activists, researchers and entrepreneurs from across African continent called on the government of Zimbabwe to uphold human rights.
“DCN Africa further condemns the intentional blackout of the internet and threatening of journalists and media activists doing their work in Zimbabwe.
“DCN Africa notes with concern communiqué from mobile network companies in Zimbabwe confirming that they acted under government instruction to suspend the internet across all networks and internet service providers. Also concerning is that according to the network companies they were obliged to act when directed to do so and that while the internet might now be restored, access to social media websites remains closed,” said the statement.
DCN Africa added that the internet shutdown does not paint a sincere picture for the country’s re-engagement efforts as it paints a picture that Zimbabwe has not reformed from its ugly past.
“For more than 24 hours, citizens of Zimbabwe were plunged into an abyss of disconnection with no access to information and were not able to communicate with the world.
“We view this development as a contradiction for a government making efforts to re-engage the world for investment, and in conflict with a constitution that guarantees human rights, particularly freedom of expression, freedom of the media and access to information rights.
“The internet blackout imposed on the citizens of Zimbabwe not only hampered citizens from doing their daily business but crippled the work of local and foreign journalist and the media who serve an important role in society as the Fourth Estate.
“The importance of the media’s role in informing the public and in holding governments to account cannot be overemphasised. We are of the view that it is only unaccountable authorities that oppress media professionals and activists by closing the internet,” read the statement.
DCN Africa said it “appeals to the government of Zimbabwe not to go down in history as one of those authorities which defied international human rights law and suppressed its own citizens by shutting the internet and promoting human rights violations.
“Our condemnation and appeal for reason include the Democratic Republic of Congo where citizens also experienced an internet shutdown last month and into the new year ahead of much-anticipated elections,” said DCN Africa.
Meanwhile, DCN Africa has also condemned the killing of an investigative journalist in Ghana and called on the government of that country to take action against the perpetrators.
“DCN Africa notes with sadness the assassination of investigative journalist and team member of Tiger Eye PL, Ahmed Hussein-Suale in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday night.
“Hussein-Saule’s death follows an alleged call for retribution on him by a politician in that country.
“We view this in a serious light and as a threat to media professionals. We call on Ghanaian authorities to act on the perpetrators of this heinous crime. The death of a single journalist is one too many,” said DCN Africa in its statement.
DCN Africa has membership in 14 African countries and its aim is to curb misinformation and to advance credible and truthful information for the good of the general public.–