Mugabe vetoes Blackberry service

President Robert Mugabe, fearing agitated citizens calling for regime change, is refusing to licence the BlackBerry service in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwean citizens are tech-savvy and emboldened, a fact that has raised fears okaying the Blackberry service could result Egypt and Tunisia-style uprisings. The Canadian mobile phones have flooded the country, but it looks as though the BlackBerry internet service will never see the light of day.

Government sources say the Joint Operations Command, a group of top security generals, has sternly warned against it, although Twitter and Facebook are allowed.

ICT minister Nelson Chamisa reportedly approved the service, but has been stonewalled by Mugabe.

"It’s securophobia mutating into technophobia," minister Chamisa told The Zimbabwean. He declined to comment further, saying the matter was still before Cabinet.

There has also been a crackdown on journalists and Zanu (PF) opponents in a bid to forestall anti-Mugabe protests.

The regime has stamped out any attempt at mass pro-democracy protests, and a university professor and other social activists accused of plotting to organise Egypt-style protests have been viciously tortured, jailed and released on bail.

The CIO is believed to be watching all networks connected to the world's IP routing system – meaning data access routes into or out of Zimbabwe are under strict surveillance through the Interception of Communications Unit, whose administration has been taken away from Chamisa and given to Zanu (PF) Transport minister Nicholas Goche.

"There is severe censorship going on. It’s like modest Internet manipulation. Essentially the government has realized it cannot stay one digital step ahead of its population, and has simply thrown the off-switch on the lackberry service. The infrastructure is there," said one systems analyst in Harare.

Even the SMS service across the nation is monitored, and it also appears that mobile phone services are being tapped.

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