|July Moyo addresses the Zanu PF Masvingo PCC at GZU's Robert Mugabe School of Education on Sept 06, 2020|
MASVINGO - Jittery about the increasingly influential role of social media in the formation of public opinion, the ruling Zanu PF party plans to deploy activists in every district to counter online narratives that are not favourable to it, TellZim News can report.
Speaking at a Zanu PF Masvingo Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting on September 07, secretary for transport in the party’s politburo July Moyo said social media was a new political frontier that could no longer be ignored.
“We want to know that we have our own people defending the party against distractors. We want to know that we have capable people doing our social media work in Mwenezi and every other district. We must leverage the power of ICTs to help make sure our party retains power in perpetuity,” said Moyo.
He made the remarks while presenting on the party’s decision to revive District Coordinating Committees (DCCs) that were disbanded in June 2012 after they became flashpoints of factionalism.
“ICTs are among the points we must emphasise as we revive the DCCs. We want to make sure that when we elect new DCCs leaders, we don’t elect deadwood. Voting should not merely be on the basis of who can sing the most or chant slogans the loudest, but on who can bring value to the party. We want our own social media vigilantes to do our bidding as a party,” said Moyo.
In the past, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called upon party supporters to get on to the social media space and defeat detractors at their own game.
“Isu vadhara, nana Mai Muchinguri vedu ava hatizvigoni zve social media. Imwi zera renyu iri, tambai navo musocial media imomo. Musakundwa musocial media. Pindai, movarakasha vanhu musocial media imomo,” Mnangagwa told the Zanu PF national youth league in March 2018.
Since then, there has been a steady rise of pro-Zanu PF trolls who, on Twitter, were later derisively nicknamed Varakashi.
Content which dominates the social media space in Zimbabwe is largely anti-Zanu PF.
Government has responded to this by drafting the highly-controversial Cyber Security and Data Protection Bill which, when passed into law, will punish those deemed to have abused social media or published falsehoods against the State.