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On patrol in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, during the shutdown. Photo: Zinyange AuntonyAFP/Getty Images

Zimbabweans protesting economic distress and high costs of living this week attempted to enforce a three-day national shutdown by blocking roads and pressuring businesses to close.

The government responded by blocking access to the internet. This comes just weeks after authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo blocked the internet to stop "fictitious" election results from spreading (perhaps they prefer to spread them themselves).

The latest: "Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd., the country’s biggest mobile-phone operator, said Wednesday night it’s still blocking access to some social-media sites on government instructions," per Bloomberg.

The bigger picture: Axios Media Reporter Sara Fischer notes that internet censorship is a major concern ahead of general elections this year in Nigeria, Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Botswana.

  • Election-related social media shutdowns have been reported in Ethiopia, Chad, Uganda and elsewhere. In Ghana, which has a comparatively strong democracy, social media was blocked on election day in 2016.

What to watch: China's global influence could have a profound effect on internet freedom. Per Quartz, China "isn’t just tightening online controls at home but is becoming more brazen in exporting some of those techniques abroad" through "official training, providing technological infrastructure to authoritarian regimes, and insisting that international companies accept its content regulations even outside of China."

Go deeper

Biden administration releases long-awaited Khashoggi report

Photo: Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released an unclassified report assessing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation to "capture or kill" Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Why it matters: The grisly October 2018 murder of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked worldwide outrage and calls for the U.S. to fundamentally reevaluate its relationship with the Gulf kingdom.

Updated 12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Employers mull COVID vaccine requirements — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategyPfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.
Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats call for briefing on legal justification for Biden's Syria strike

Sen. Tim Kaine. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) are among the Democrats criticizing the Biden administration for Thursday night's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, demanding that Congress immediately be briefed on the matter.

Why it matters: The strikes, which the Pentagon and National Security Council say were a response to threats against U.S. forces in the region, constitute the Biden administration's first overt military action.

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