Zimbabwean Politician’s Son Arrested for Illegal Possession of StarLink Terminal

A standard Starlink kit
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HARARE – In a striking development highlighting the risks associated with unlicensed SpaceX technology, the son of a prominent Zimbabwean politician has been arrested on charges of illegally possessing a StarLink terminal.

According to Bloomberg, Neville Mutsvangwa, the son of Monica Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Women’s Affairs and Community Development, appeared before a Harare court on Friday, facing allegations of violating the postal and telecommunications act, as announced by the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe via social media.

StarLink terminals have gained popularity in Zimbabwe, despite lacking proper licensing, due to their availability through a global street market trade. This phenomenon has made them accessible even in regions where they are not officially authorized for use.

In response to this trend, Zimbabwean authorities requested SpaceX in April to terminate all terminals accessing its service and urged StarLink to submit a formal application for operation within the country.

On the streets of Zimbabwe, these terminals are reportedly sold for prices ranging between $1,000 and $1,250, reflecting the demand for internet access solutions in the region.

Neville Mutsvangwa’s father, Christopher Mutsvangwa, holds significant political influence as the spokesman for Zimbabwe’s ruling party. He has previously served as an adviser and cabinet minister to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

A bail hearing for Neville Mutsvangwa has been scheduled for Monday.

This incident follows Elon Musk’s company’s warning to several African nations in April that its satellite internet service would be discontinued in areas where it lacked the necessary operating licenses.

A prior investigation conducted by Bloomberg News shed light on the widespread use of Musk’s satellites in countries where such operations are illegal, including territories governed by repressive regimes.