Zambia to Shut Down Internet on Election Day

Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing on July 6, 2017 at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. – Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Thursday justified invoking a state of emergency by alleging that opposition parties were behind a string of arson attacks intended “to create terror and panic”. Lungu denied that he was establishing a dictatorship in Zambia, a relatively stable country in recent years, and said his political rivals were trying to overturn last year’s election results. (Photo by DAWOOD SALIM / AFP)

The Zambian government is planning to completely shut down access to the internet on its election day, August 12.

Government sources said the action is necessitated over fears that some negative elements might use the internet to incite and organize protests hence the need to shut it down so as to maintain peace and order during the election period.

Meanwhile, telecommunication companies in Zambia have failed to offer guarantees that they will not shut down access over the election period.

Telecoms giant MTN stated that if the Zambian government ordered it to shut down its services during the elections, the company would have to consider the order in light of its digital human rights policy.

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Head of Public Policy at Facebook, Southern Africa, Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa has urged the Zambian government to keep the internet open during the election period.

In an interview which she granted, she disclosed that Facebook has been engaging the Zambian authorities on the importance of keeping internet access open.

According to her, social media platforms help in easing communications and if the internet is shutdown, it will prevent people from reaching out to their families, friends, and even their livelihoods.

She further stated that since the COVID-19 pandemic, most businesses have moved online to reach out to their customers, so if there are Internet shutdowns, it will undermine economic activities and growth by harming businesses.

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