Zanu PF cracks down on social medi
by Paidamoyo Muzulu
ZANU PF’s doublespeak was exposed at its annual conference in Bulawayo last
week when it passed a resolution ordering a crackdown on social media, such
as Facebook, Twitter, My Space, among others. The resolution is contrary to
the party central committee’s recommendation proposing the increased usage
of new media for Zanu PF to reach its membership in the Generation 40
In the report tabled by President Robert Mugabe during the conference, the
party’s science and technology department said: “If platforms for
disseminating information about the party and its policies are not in sync
with modern trends, the party may not strike a chord with the majority of
the electorate who are under 40 years of age. Rallies and gatherings as a
source for disseminating information are now very limited and limiting the
scope and geographic spread.”
However, Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Emmerson Mnangagwa read out the
conference resolution to tighten screws on the use of social media,
highlighting that the Arab Spring revolutions were driven by new media.
The Arab Spring swept away the long-serving dictatorships of Tunisia, Egypt
and Libya through mass uprisings mainly coordinated through Twitter and
Mnangagwa said social networks had been used with devastating results in the
United Kingdom riots and the ongoing Occupy Wall Street campaigns in the
United States and should, therefore, be further controlled if peace was to
be guaranteed in the country.
The party’s science and technology department’s observations are in sync
with the mobile penetration rate in Zimbabwe where more than seven million
people are connected.
Zimbabwe has witnessed an increased usage of data services after Econet,
Telecel and NetOne introduced the service enabling people to access the
Internet on their mobile phones.
The mobile penetration has been further boosted by zero rate customs duty on
imported mobile phones and accessories and the availability of Chinese made
cheap low-end market smartphones.
Ironically, Zanu PF youths and technology savvy MPs have opened Twitter and
Facebook accounts where they engage with their constituencies. Noticeable
among them are Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour
Kasukuwere, his brother Tongai Kasukuwere, Tourism minister Walter Mzembi
and outspoken MP Edward Chindori-Chininga.
Former Information minister Jonathan Moyo has become a prolific blogger on a
number of websites where he espouses Zanu PF policies and denigrates its
opponents, particularly MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
The central committee report ominously warns that for the party “to remain a
political giant and retain competitiveness, Zanu PF has to take ICTs
seriously for political mobilisation”.
Zanu PF has maintained a media stranglehold since Independence as evidenced
by its decline to license private broadcasters in the past 31 years,
enactment of draconian legislation, such as the Public Order and Security
Act, Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the
Interception of Communication and Information Act.
Party deputy national spokesperson Cain Mathema said Zanu PF expected the
coalition government to implement its conference resolutions.
“It does not matter we are in a coalition government. The government has to
implement the conference resolutions just like any other coalition operates
for instance in Israel and the United Kingdom,” Mathema told the Zimbabwe
Independent this week.
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