Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)Access to social media platforms in Zimbabwe was reinstated on Monday, hours after a court deemed the government's internet shutdown illegal.
Social media access restored in Zimbabwe by court order
Zimbabwean authorities clamped down on internet use last week, after violent protests broke out over President Emmerson Mnangagwa's announcement of a 150% hike on fuel prices.
Over the weekend, internet access was restored only partially. A spokesperson for Mnangagwa said social media remained blocked to prevent it being used as a tool for coordinating violence.
On Monday, Zimbabwe's High Court ruled that the Security Minister Owen Ncube did not have the authority to force mobile operators to block services.
"It has become very clear that the minister has no authority to make the directive," Judge Owen Tagu told the court. He commanded telecommunications firms "to unconditionally resume the provision of full and unrestricted services to all subscribers forthwith."
Hours later, Zimbabwe's largest telecommunications company, Econet Wireless, sent a message to its customers informing them the suspension had been lifted and that "all internet and social media services have now been fully restored."
Zimbabweans had been relying on Virtual Private Networks (or VPNs) to access applications like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and YouTube since last week.
Protests erupted after Mnangagwa said a price hike on gas prices was required to ease months of fuel shortages. The unrest has left at least five dead and a further 25 injured, with human rights organizations blaming the police and army for the violence. Security forces in Zimbabwe have accused "rogue elements" for stoking violence against protesters.
In the aftermath, residents and activists expressed concerns over the brutal crackdown.
Samm Farai Monro, a political activist and satirist for freedom of expression in Zimbabwe, told CNN that last week's protests underscore how little Zimbabwe has changed since the resignation of former leader Robert Mugabe.
He described the protests as "an expression of citizens' anger and frustration at an economy that is grinding to a halt. There are no jobs and people are struggling to survive with the cost of living in Zimbabwe with soaring inflation."
"The repression that happened afterwards was really scary, with soldiers going around beating people door to door," added Monro, who also goes by the moniker "Comrade Fatso." "Live ammunition being used on protestors and the subsequent internet blackout -- this really affected our work as activists."