HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsEditorial Comment: Cyber-bullying: ZRP should not be entrenching repression

Editorial Comment: Cyber-bullying: ZRP should not be entrenching repression

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So, on Monday, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) issued a threat against purported and alleged cyber-bullying of government officials including President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Interestingly, ZRP issued its statement after Zanu PF acting spokesperson Patrick Chinamasa said colonial masters had turned to social media to “discredit icons like Mnangagwa” who were “working for economic emancipation.”

Well, the President is not God, he is very human.

If we voted him into office, please allow us to hold him to account. Checks and balances must apply to him too.

Didn’t he say he was “a listening president?” If he cannot stand criticism then he should stay out of public office or politics altogether.

Perhaps the ZRP needs to furnish us with their definition of cyber-bullying. We may also need to know why we should be limited or be told what to and not to say.

Why does the ZRP keep quiet when ordinary Zimbabweans are subjected to cyber-bullying only to grow teeth after politicians give them instructions?

But things have changed from the old days of German philosopher Jürgen Habermas’ public sphere.

It’s high time government accepted that people think, they have hopes and hunger for engagement.

It should be easy especially in the internet age where social media has prompted the return of the public sphere. Social media platforms attract millions of users who connect digitally.

Looking closely at all alleged cases of cyber-bullying, the people are simply calling on the government to act on corruption, poor governance and lack of accountability.

It’s only particular individuals who carry the burden of excessive bootlicking who try to gag people.

There should be no intimidatory tactics on social media platforms. Citizens must express their opinions freely.

Some issues are tip offs on corrupt activities which the ZRP ignore and focus on threatening people.

A government that does not allow for checks and balances is likely to be involved in unconstitutional acts which it fears could be exposed.

The arrests of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, Jacob Ngarivhume, a politician, and the hounding of another scribe, Mduduzi Mathuthu, are exactly what is wrong with a regime that fears being made to look into the mirror.

The media or social media users did not create the animal you see in that mirror.

Mnangagwa and his administration should respect freedom of expression and engagement as prescribed by the Constitution.

It should sink into politicians’ heads that a healthy functioning democracy is premised on the electorate making informed choices based on engagement.

Clearly, the government of Zimbabwe wants people to live in fear and not to openly express their wishes and hopes, it’s not new. We saw it even during the Mugabe era.

A process where citizens are empowered to participate in public decision-making is an effective means to tackle “democracy deficits” and improve public accountability.

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