The exploitation of social media by the former ruling party which was handed its first major electoral defeat by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party in 2008 exposes Zanu (PF)’s double standards after it passed a resolution last year criticising the usage of social media platforms.
At its December annual conference held in Bulawayo last December, Zanu (PF) passed a resolution ordering a crackdown on social media platforms such as Face book, Twitter, My Space, among others.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the party’s secretary for legal affairs who read out the conference resolutions warned that social media networks should be controlled if peace was to be guaranteed in the country because the platforms had been used with devastating results in countries such as the United Kingdom, where anti-government riots erupted, Occupy Wall Street campaigns in the United States.
Mnangagwa, who serves as the country’s defence minister advocated for the tightening of screws on the use of social media, stressing that the Arab Spring revolutions were driven by new media. Long-serving dictatorships of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt were toppled through mass uprisings largely coordinated through Face book and Twitter.
But Zanu (PF)’s duplicity has been exposed following discoveries that the party is exploiting Twitter to preach its election campaign gospel.
Although, the party’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo could not be reached to confirm whether those managing the Twitter account had the blessings of the party, some of the party’s strategists such as former Media, Information and Publicity Minister, Jonathan Moyo have been exploiting new media to spread the party’s doctrine while Gumbo has been friendly to respond to media enquiries from media houses considered to be hostile to Mugabe’s party.
To date Zanu (PF) has 83 tweets, 455 followers among them Floyd Shivambu, the former spokesperson of the African National Congress and follows 41 people who are signed up on Twitter.
In one of the tweets, Zanu (PF) said ‘Embrace Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front The land is the economy, the economy is the land,’ ‘Our twitter account is part of our new operation. We want to control this media,’ and ‘Become one among the revolutionaries- give us your vote or we will tweet you off the planet!’