By Bridget Mananavire
More and more politicians in Zimbabwe, including those in government, seem to have finally embraced social media — a tool they once frowned upon — as they communicate policies and defend their actions as well as spread their ideologies.
The presence of politicians was more noticeable ahead of the July 30 elections — as candidates and parties battled for control of the youth voice.
While in past years social media was seen as a tool used to protest and give voice to citizens who wanted to vent out their frustrations or give advice to government, today even high profile people like President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the majority of his party functionaries are all over on social media including Twitter and Facebook.
Mnangagwa, in particular has been at the forefront since he came into office declaring that he was a listening president.
He immediately opened Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as being on WhatsApp where he communicates government and his Zanu PF business.
Outgoing deputy Finance minister Terrence Mukupe is probably among the most vocal Zanu PF officials on social media where his posts, at times, are viewed as controversial by his followers.
Another outgoing minister who followed his boss’ footsteps is Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo who has also been active on Twitter, trying to engage citizens and the international community.
Other ministers who have been in Mnangagwa’s government and are active on social media include Supa Mandiwanzira, as well as other Members of Parliament including Justice Wadyajena, Energy Mutodi and Fortune Chasi among others.
Mutodi at one time was dragged to court over one of his Facebook posts in which he seemed to accuse certain ministers of poisoning then VP Mnangagwa in Gwanda.
Jonathan Moyo, a former minister in Robert Mugabe’s government has been the most active on Twitter where he seemed to have created a platform to fight his wars.
Ironically during Mugabe’s time Zanu PF was to “ban” its officials from using social media but Moyo defied it and even today he continues to use it albeit him being a fugitive.
The Zanu PF government has often been accused of trying to clampdown social media as they at one time appointed Patrick Chinamasa, the outgoing Finance minister as the Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation minister.
Opposition politicians who are on social media include MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa, Tendai Biti, Charlton Hwende, Job Sikhala, Morgen Komichi, Douglas Mwonzora, Obert Gutu to name just but a few.
As much as there has been an influx of accounts belonging to politicians, there has also been an influx of fake accounts.
A number of public figures have had to come out and dismiss some of the social media accounts set up using their names. -DailyNews