INFORMATION, Publicity and Broadcasting Services deputy minister Energy Mutodi yesterday warned that government would not hesitate to shut down the Internet again if need arises and claimed Zimbabweans were primitive and have no understanding of their constitutional rights.
Mutodiâs claim came in the face of a recent High Court ruling that outlawed a recent Internet shutdown ordered by government to control flow of information during riots.
The government was roundly criticised for showing dictatorial tendencies by shutting down the Internet .
However, Mutodi said government would not hesitate to do it again because Zimbabweans are still âbackwardâ.
âThe Internet shutdown was not illegal as such. The only issue that arose is that the person (State Security minister Owen Ncube) who ordered the shutdown is not the rightful person to do that,â Mutodi said.
âGovernment can invoke the Interception of Communications Act because that is part of our law. Whenever the need arises, government will invoke that.
People can criticise all they want, but that is the law.
âPeople that say Zimbabwe is modern are mistaken. Zimbabwe still has primitive people with primitive minds who donât understand the meaning of peaceful demonstrations. When people go and loot, cause violence instead of peaceful demonstrations, then is that not a sign that we are still backward.â
Mutodi said Zimbabweans were given rights by the Constitution, but they do not understand how far they should exercise their rights.
During the shutdown, seemingly calculated to blackout the broadcast of worsening human rights abuses, a number of institutions complained on the governmentâs conduct.
MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume yesterday said Mutodi was out of order.
âHas he lost his mind? He and his government are the ones that are primitive. They are happy when the population is in pain. They believe it is they that must have a good life. In fact Mutodi is a glorified hoodlum and how he finds himself in government is a question for the ages,â he said.
Last week the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana said the move by government to block internet connectivity was necessary to curb the violence that was spreading throughout the country.
Mr Mangwana said Zimbabwe under siege from sponsored hooligans who attacked citizens and police stations indiscriminately in violent demonstrations that cost lives and property, government had no option but to act decisively to protect innocent citizens.
It has become a worrying worldwide trend of governments cutting internet, less than three weeks into 2019, five countries (including Zimbabwe) have experienced partial or full internet shutdowns: Sudan, Bangladesh, the DRC and Gabon.