The #ShutdownZimbabwe and #ThisFlag peaceful protests continue in Zimbabwe. There was speculation ahead of today's #Government strikes and mass-action work stay-away that the government would shut down social media. Word went out that people should change over to browsers such as Tor which would mean they could still tweet and #Facebook events unfolding in Zimbabwe under a different ISP address. TechZim put up an article earlier today about this but it was taken down, even though the cached version is still available. Sources inside Zimbabwe confirm that this morning WhatsApp was blocked and the #ThisFlag tweets are pushing Virtual Private Network as the phrase of the day.
Bypassing social media shut-down.
One respected Zimbabwean journalist advised her Facebook followers to download CloudVPN so they can stay in touch with the world, especially as it looks like Facebook might be denied the movement for change as well. The #ShutdownZimbabwe2016 hashtag is trending and under that hashtag, it is of interest to note that South Africa’s Mail & Guardian news article from earlier in June is finding some popularity. The article is entitled “Five ways to by-pass social media bans.”
Government warns tweeters.
Meanwhile according the government newspaper, The Chronicle, the government of Zimbabwe has warned the people who are tweeting about Zimbabwe that people who send “subversive” messages on social media will face the “full wrath of the Law,” Minister of communications, Mandiwanzira has warned that they are able to trace every communication online and that such messages are a violation of the law, as they threaten the State.
Newsday reported that downtown Harare is like a Ghost Town and posted up a video. The normally jam-packed sidewalks and streets are almost empty. It has been reported that the stay-away is well supported in cities other than Harare, and that in Bulawayo the town is very quiet with hardly anyone appearing for work. In the city of Masvingo in the southeast, banks are reported to be closed and shops have shut their doors. Reports are coming in that Government TV and media outlets are under heavy guard by armed soldiers and there is also an unconfirmed report that the Civil Service Commission will be conducting a head-count to find out who stayed away.
Protesters urge the use of social media images.
Public supporters for Shutdown Zimbabwe until they get radical change, are advising everyone to use their mobile phones to capture images of violence perpetrated against the people, and to post them up online.
Speculation President puts army on full alert.
The president of the country, Mr.Robert Mugabe was reported by NBSTV to have placed his army on standby.
A rattled President Mugabe places army on standby as fears of social unrest grow in Zimbabwe: local media reports pic.twitter.com/ERICfdBqvT— NBS Television (@nbstv) July 6, 2016
International media ignoring protesters.
Among the protesters there is some anger that large international media is not giving their brave stand much coverage. Tweeters are asking why there is no interest in what could be a life-saving mass action for their country. That said, it is remarkably difficult for media to gain access to Zimbabwe, so some commentators suggest that this revolution for change will happen not through television, but through Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagram.
Why the protest?
Asked what the mass protests are about, one source said simply that people want a government that cares about the people, and not a corrupt government who cares little for the masses. The “silent Revolution” is a follow-on from riots that closed the Beitbridge border last week and general protests on Tuesday over corruption, heavy handed policing and economic mismanagement. #Military