HARARE - Zimbabwe is ranked among the countries with a dynamic Information Communication Technology (ICT) growth and this is on the back of significant strides made by the government of national unity.
It is surprising therefore that Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai is acting against some of the achievements made during his time as Prime Minister in the inclusive government.
Tsvangirai has issued a ban on social media groups on Facebook and WhatsApp which were being used feverishly by his party members to robustly debate issues.
This is a direct assault on free expression which, for long, the MDC was known to campaign for before entering the inclusive government.
The ban also flies in the face of the ICT revolution which was started by Tsvangirai’s former organising secretary — Nelson Chamisa — who, as ICT minister, was credited with changing government policy on the telecoms and Internet.
Tsvangirai has taken a wrong approach in trying to address what he sees as an abuse of both the Facebook and WhatsApp groups by his party members.
“The proliferation of this abuse (social media) has reached alarming proportions and cannot be ignored any longer. I therefore issue the order that any WhatsApp group administered by anyone who is an MDC member without exception, be shut down,” the MDC leader said in a statement.
“Any party structure which needs to run a social media group should access forms from the Office of the President. Those who have been found on the wrong side must consider this as an official first warning.”
If the truth be told, Tsvangirai is paranoid and fearful of being toppled by some party members who are agitating for another congress in 2016.
But by adopting a tougher stance associated with predators of media and free expression, Tsvangirai is badly exposing himself and earning an unwanted tag of a “dictator”.
For the record, Zimbabwe has 6,1 million Internet subscriptions with 99 percent of those being mobile devices based.
The country also has an 87 percent mobile penetration backed by 11, 4 million active subscribers, according to the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).
Both the surging Internet and mobile phone subscribers are the driving force behind the use of social media here in Zimbabwe.
It does look strange that Tsvangirai is risking sullying his reputation as an advocate of democracy for fearing the unseen at the expense of what his party stands for!