Several African news agencies are reporting that the government of Zimbabwe has blocked access to WhatsApp and Facebook after the country’s citizens and government workers announced plans to organize a “national shutdown.”

According to multiple reports, users couldn’t access WhatsApp early in the morning, and a total ban affecting all the country’s major mobile operators was in place by 07:00 AM local time. By mid-day, the ban had extended to all ISPs and users started reporting difficulties in accessing Facebook as well.

Social media campaigns urged citizens to public protests

For the past few weeks, Zimbabwe has been engulfed in protests as citizens voiced their complaints against the country’s mismanagement by its ruling party, ZANU-PF, which recently faced criticism and cyber-attacks from the Anonymous hacker collective.

Leading up to today, Zimbabweans have been very active on social media under the #ThisFlag and #ShutDownZim hashtags. Activists called for a total government shutdown scheduled for today.

People were asked to stay at home, and government workers not to show up for work. If possible, people were urged to protest on the street.

According to IndependentOnline, the government blamed WhatsApp and other social media outlets for helping organize the protest, for spreading lies, and for inciting people to violence. The government wants to extend the ban to other social networks as well.

Later in the day, despite the WhatsApp and Facebook ban, users were exchanging guides on how to access the services via VPNs.

Zimbabwe is on the verge of collapse

Reuters reported that police made 40 arrests across Zimbabwe following today’s protests.

AFKInsider reports that the protest was successful as very few businesses were open, some schools remained closed, and taxi drivers quadrupled their fairs in support for the movement. Protesters also blocked some roads with vehicles, making public transportation difficult.

According to TimesLive, the Zimbabwe government is spending around 82 percent of all national revenue on wages alone, and the country is on the verge of economical collapse.

Below is a warning sent by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to members of the public, obtained by Zimbabwe Newsday.

POTRAZ warning

POTRAZ warning

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