High Court judge Owen Tagu ruled on Monday that State Security Minister Owen Ncube acted illegally when he ordered telecommunications firms to disconnect Internet connectivity when Zimbabweans engaged in mass demonstrations last week.
According to the judge, Ncube has no power to do so and only President Emmerson Mnangagwa is allowed to do so.
Ncube ordered a communication blackout on 15 January in a move aimed at blocking access by protesters to social media platforms, which were being used to spread messages urging Zimbabweans to stay at home in line with a call by the country’s largest labour union.
The social media platforms were also used to share footage showing soldiers and other security agents beating up protesters.
The High Court ruling followed an application by the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
The two organisations had sought a court order on the legality of Ncube’s order and compelling the country’s Internet service providers to restore services.