Mugabe's plan to ban social media condemned

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s plan to strictly police Internet access, censoring web users and blocking access to sites deemed sensitive Chinese-style, has been slammed by the opposition and analysts as a fascist move that risks dragging the country back into the Stone Age era.

This comes after Mugabe on Saturday said Zimbabwe needed to implement measures to control social media to minimise rampant abuse of the platforms.

“...there’s a lot of bad stuff on the Internet,” Mugabe said just after landing at the Harare International Airport from Japan.

“There’s a lot of abuse that happens there. Some people use the Internet in bad ways. It’s everywhere. But the Chinese have put in place security measures and we will look at these so that we stop these abuses on the Internet.”

China has put new restrictions on social media use by its citizens, who already face State censorship and filtering when they post about controversial issues or criticise the government. The MDC has threatened to launch a court challenge should Mugabe proceed with his “fascist plan to muzzle the media.”

“Section 61 of the Constitution sets out our freedom of expression and freedom of the media. Every Zimbabwean has got a right to seek, receive and communicate ideas and other information,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said.

“Mugabe has never been comfortable with a robust and fearless media that places politicians and all other public figures under strict scrutiny.

“This is the very reason why the Zanu PF regime maintains an iron-fisted control of the electronic media in Zimbabwe. Mugabe is very worried that social media is now able to expose those shenanigans that his regime would have routinely swept under the carpet and keep away from the attention of the majority of the people.

“Mugabe is yesterday’s man, he seems not to understand that even China, with all the massive financial and material resources at its disposal, is having a very tough time trying to clamp down on the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram.”

Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said Mugabe was angry that he was being portrayed as a cartoon character in social media circles

“It is a laughable suggestion really,” PDP spokesperson Jacob Mafume said. “He is trying to stifle people or represses people, and freedom of the media.

“He is angry at the capacity of society to make him look like the cartoon character he is. He has built an artificial image, where he is portrayed as a revolutionary, and likened to biblical king.

“On social media, however, it’s a different thing. It’s where jokes about him circulate and where embarrassing videos about him circulate. It’s not just him; his wife as well is made fun of on social media”

Academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said it would be hard for the Mugabe government to control social media.

“It is very difficult to control electronic media. It just becomes another futile exercise. Even in China where these restrictions are, they have found a way around them,” Mandaza said.

Afghanistan-based analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the restrictions were futile in a collapsing economy.

“We already have restrictions. Chinese economy is ticking and people may grapple with the restrictions. Zimbabwe’s economy is in tatters and such restrictions will only to more exodus of people.

“There are already too many push factors for Zimbabweans to go abroad and this will be the last stroke,” Saungweme said.


Comments (8)

Unongoona kuti munhu akura. Don't even appreciate the use of social media.

Inini - 5 April 2016

Unongoona kuti munhu akura. Don't even appreciate the use of social media.

Inini - 5 April 2016

Autocratic tendencies have nothing to do with age.Remember how Econet struggled to introduce mobile cellphone network services.It had to operate upon the judgement of the High Court.Dictators want to make sure that the populations under their control are deprived of access to information.

gen spinola - 5 April 2016

He has to ban his daughter Bona first. At her first book page she refers to Tsvangirai as Morgay. When people refers to her mother as hure raMugabe her father threatens to empty the little tha comes in the government`s coffers hiring the Chinese to control Zimbabweans on the internet. I do not think the Chinese will have too much appetite for this task because they know he will not be around for very long.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 5 April 2016

the reason why Zimbabwe is this situation is because an average Zimbabwean doesn't want the truth. below are some of the truths that people routinely circumvent: 1. rwavhi gukurahundi Mugabe committed genocide in Zimbabwe mainly the gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s. this is the reason why he doesn't want to vacate the throne because he knows that he will be arrested. this has nothing to do with his marriage to grace is this come well after he had committed the crimes. 2. grace is a useless slut who left her marriage to get married to rwavhi because of pecuniary gains. 3. joice mujuru was the main driver of corruption in zanu with her late hubby rex. she owns a number of farms, mine and buildings around the country. she has no positive contribution to make to the country given her horrendous performance in govt for the past 35 years. she is a liar who wants us to believe that she always had differences with Mugabe yet she begged him to stay on the eve of her official cashiering. the fact that on top of her priorities is the chasing of solo's killers shows that she is in it for her own benefit and not for national benefit. tsvangirayi lost his wife in dodgy circumstances but never has he said that he wants to avenge that. also, joice consistently said that she has no ambition to become president now she is lying that people requested her to be president. the day we learnt to accept and tell the truth, our country and ourselves shall be liberated!!! VIVA SAVE 2018 VIVA!!!

josphat mugadzaweta - 6 April 2016

Try it mgodoyi and see if you will succeed. China, which is more advanced technologically, than your fiefdom have tried it and failed. Kuzoti imi vana Kabiasi mungazvigona? Handei tione.

Madhebhura - 6 April 2016

museveni did it during elections and rhobhati was taking notes! its its irrational to desire control at that level. Zimbabweans are not Mugabe's children who must act, behave and walk in a manner that he wishes, it defies democracy. for a president to be hld to account he/she must be open to criticism, that is whet many nations are built on and zim shouldn't be an exception.

SaManyika Chaiye - 6 April 2016

If someone was caught LIVE sleeping on Duty, is this Bad stuff and Abuse on the internet?

Joe Rugg - 6 April 2016

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