Below is an editorial comment from the Southern Eye of January 2,2015 on recent reports that MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai had banned his party members from participating in social media groups.
Embattled MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has reportedly banned party members from participating in social media groups, a development critics say is intended at thwarting any threat to his position.
In his letter said to have been addressed to all party members, Tsvangirai said he had noticed with dismay the manner in which social media was being abused in pursuit of “glorification (of self) at the expense of the party,” adding that the proliferation had reached alarming proportions and could not be ignored anymore.
“I, therefore, order any group administered by anyone who is an MDC member, without exception, be shut down with immediate effect,” he said. “All members of the party must exit all groups on their own will with immediate effect.
Any structure which needs to run a social media group must access forms from the office of the president.” It would appear the MDC-T leader wants to take back his party to the Stone Age at a time when schoolchildren know that the social media is the way to go in this century.
When most people first read about that, they thought it was not true and could not be true from a man who has been preaching democracy since he burst into the political limelight with the advent of the MDC in 1999.
According to Maxwell Saungwene, a development analyst, Tsvangirai is just but demonstrating behaviour contrary to the founding principles of democratic parties and other advocates of open societies including the civil society where he got a name.
He noted that the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the National Constitutional Assembly, as civil society organisation, stood for an open society where freedom of speech is held dearly in any form.
Banning members of a political party from participating in social media is “Stone Age”-like and very medieval. It is just not expected.
The order to ban party members dabbling in social media gives credence to assertions Tsvangirai has dictatorial tendencies that have led to some of his former allies deserting him to form their own political formations.
His former colleagues that have split from him are probably saying we told you so. It is bad for democracy.
Tsvangirai’s actions, which we condemn, are not different from the overzealous State security agents who forced journalists covering the arrival of President Robert Mugabe from the African Union summit in Ethiopia on February 4 2014 to delete pictures they had taken as he fell at Harare International Airport.