Mnangagwa overseas amid an Internet blackout to quell anti-govt riots

LONDON — Investors have not rushed to invest in Zimbabwe following the end of the Mugabe era and have instead waited to see if the Crocodile as he is known in South Africa’s neighbouring state, is going to be the new broom he promised. And while he is overseas for a 4-nation visit to Eastern Europe, his generals and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga have been left in charge of an explosive situation at home. There are nationwide protest and riots following a decision to double the price of fuel. Five people are believed to be dead. In an effort to curb the anti-government protests, access to social media websites have been blocked in the country leaving most Zimbabweans without the Internet. Mnangagwa is stopping off at Davos in Switzerland in an effort to attract foreign investments, but developments at home are likely to go down like a lead ballon at the World Economic Forum. – Linda van Tilburg

By Brian Latham

(Bloomberg) – When the Zimbabwean government ordered internet service providers to shutter parts of the web in an effort to curb anti-government protests, it also plunged homes into darkness because people can’t pay their utilities online.

Most people in the southern African nation use Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd.’s Ecocash mobile-phone payment system for daily transactions. They buy electricity in units of $5 or less and almost all domestic users are on prepaid meters, so many buy for $1 at a time.

According to Zimbabwe’s Finance Ministry less than 5% of commercial transactions in the country involve cash, mainly because it’s hard to find. Instead Zimbabweans use Ecocash or bank cards.

“Tonight will be spent in darkness,” said 42-year-old John Pedzesai, who sells plants on a sidewalk in the capital, Harare.

Econet, Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile-phone company, declined to comment.