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High Court ruling on Internet hailed

by Staff reporter
23 Jan 2019 at 12:54hrs | Views
Information, communication and technology activists have welcomed the High Court's decision to have the Internet restored saying its shutdown violated the rights of millions of Zimbabweans.

Government shutdown the Internet last week in a bid to stifle protests instigated by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), and social movement #ThisFlag.

Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) and the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (Maz) have applauded the judgment suggesting that cutting people from the Internet infringes on their right to access information.

Misa national director Thabani Moyo said access to Internet is important as it has become a global right enabling users to make knowledgeable choices.

"The court ruling is a positive affirmation for Misa Zimbabwe's demands that the Internet is no longer just a platform but a right. It is a right for the people of Zimbabwe to express themselves, a right for the people of Zimbabwe to access information and share it for their collective good and to make informed decisions.

"So we welcome the ruling by the High court which has given us momentum to maintain traction on the issues around making the Internet accessible, affordable and available, underlining available in this case which was under siege," Moyo told the Daily News.

Maz programmes manager Nigel Nyamutumbu also commended the High Court ruling pointing out that it conforms with democratic principles of promoting citizens' right to access to information and to free expression.

However he said there are fears a cyber-law could be enacted to infringe citizens' rights.

The High Court ruling came after Misa and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) filed a High Court application saying the Internet shutdown was an abuse of the Interception of Communications Act that was passed in 2007 in preparation for the contested 2008 elections.

In addition to the court application, Misa had also written letters to the minister of State in the President's Office for State Security as well as to Econet Wireless about the prolonged Internet shutdown.

The High Court ordered government to fully restore Internet services stating that the State minister Responsible for National Security does not have the authority to issue any directives in terms of the Interception of Communications Act.

"This means that the directives issued by minister Owen Ncube to shut down the Internet in Zimbabwe are illegal and therefore, without effect. The Interception of Communications Act is one of 12 Acts directly administered by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe," Misa said in a statement.

Econet Wireless has also sent messages to its customers informing them that it has been ordered to restore Internet access.

"Dear Valued Customer, the ministerial directive invoked on operators to suspend Internet and social media services was set aside this afternoon (21-01-2019), by the
High Court. All Internet and social media services have now been fully restored. Any inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted," the message read.

Source - dailynews

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