Some Zimbabweans have dismissed as misdirected claims by the government and defence forces chief general Constantine Chiwenga that local people are abusing social media.
Several state officials have been of late attacking Zimbabweans protesting against the current social and economic problems saying they are using social media to allegedly cause chaos in the country.
President Robert Mugabe, like some of the senior government officials and General Chiwenga, claim that Pastor Evan Mawarire of #thisflag, Tajamuka-Sesijikile Campaign and other entities fighting for wide-ranging reforms want to bring regime change through the social media sphere.
They have cited some cases of cyber bulling, insults targeted at the president and his government, recent public protests and videos of some people with weapons of war threatening to overrun Zimbabwe, as examples of social media abuse.
Zanu PF lawmaker Joseph Tshuma told Studio 7 that social media is being used by some Zimbabweans to abuse the sitting president, state officials and some innocent Zimbabweans.
“It’s unfortunate that some of our people have tended to be very uncultural and have actually become criminals of the cyber space. People are abusing social media everyday not only for the politics of the day.
Dr. Alex Magaisa, a law lecturer and political commentator based in Britain, noted that it is unfortunate that the government is attempting to control people’s freedoms on the internet.
“What is happening is that Zimbabweans have found space on social media in order to articulate their views because previously they have been restricted to traditional media which is quite restricted and as you know radio is controlled by Zanu PF.
“So, people have not been able to express themselves in the way they would have wanted to over the years and suddenly social media has become an important platform to express those views and the government is not used to it and that is why they are panicking.”
Kumbirai Mafunda, chairman of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa, concured, adding that there are laws that can be used in Zimbabwe for redress if anyone feels abused in the social media sphere.
He said it is unfair for the state and army general to accuse the people of abusing social media.
Information Technology Minister Supa Mandiwanzira was not reachable for comment. The government is drafting a cyber security law designed to curb cyber crime and related issues.