Govt officials, politicians and their use of social media

As of October 2023, social media statistics in Zimbabwe revealed that X has an average of 21% users, making it the second popular social media network after Facebook as compared to other social media platforms.

WITH the advancement of technology, X (formerly Twitter) has rapidly become a crucial communication tool for government officials and politicians in Zimbabwean to convey their messages to the public, either to threaten or give general updates for their personal interest.

However, the developments have done more harm than good in shaping Zimbabwe’s image to the extent of causing confusion and intrastate conflicts.

As of October 2023, social media statistics in Zimbabwe revealed that X has an average of 21% users, making it the second popular social media network after Facebook as compared to other social media platforms.

A pie chart showing social media use statistics in Zimbabwe and sample list of the active public officials has been inserted.

Ndavaningi Mangwana

The Information, Media and Broadcasting Services ministry permanent secretary is one person who posts on X every day at intervals of about an hour, giving updates on national issues. 

However, Mangwana has the tendency of dismissing information that leaks on X and later backtracking following government's official statements.

He is always grilled by his followers either for posting unverified information or for dismissing true information.

Mangwana has over close to 600 000 followers on X.

There was confusion towards the beginning of the third term school calendar following conflicting reports that schools' opening had been deferred to a later date to accommodate President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration.

This chaos was meant to pile pressure on the opposition Citizen Coalition for Change (CCC) to concede defeat after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had announced Mnangagwa as the winner of the August 23 to 24 presidential elections, a result that was immediately rejected by his main rival Nelson Chamisa.

Mangwana posted: “SCHOOLS OPENING UPDATE: This is to notify that schools in Harare are now opening on Wednesday 6 September 2023,” which added to the confusion as boarding schools had already started welcoming learners in schools.

Then later during the same day the Education ministry issued a statement saying: “The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education wishes to confirm that there is no deviation from the original school calendar.

“The general public is hereby informed that as announced before, the third term begins on September 4, 2023 and ends on December 1, 2023.

“There has been no change to the calendar and for any official news concerning the school calendar, formal channels of communication will be used, not social media.”

 This dismissed Mangwana’s post despite that he serves as the permanent secretary of information.

George Charamba

Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba’s journey from @Jamwanda2 via Tinoedzazvimwe1 and now dhonzamusoro007 has been interesting to follow.

Charamba is a government official masquerading as a Zanu PF politician known for issuing threats through sarcastic posts on X.

Some have criticised his use of X saying it's not an appropriate platform for a presidential spokesperson to convey such kinds of messages to the public as some of his statements do not amplify the voice if the government.

Both government officials and politicians take for granted that the internet will never forget.

In one of his comments on X, Charamba tweeted: "Vaudze!!!! Apa matumbu akati shaku nesadza reZanu-PF; zvimota zvavo zvichiclocka 200km/hr muhighway yagadzirwa neZanu-PF. In towns and cities, they misgovern, they barely move at 5km/ hr!!! Dhemeti mhani!!"

He posted this following Zanu-PF information director Tafadzwa Mugwadi's interview with Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN).

 Charamba uses X to mock the opposition more than he communicates developmental issues.

Nelson Chamisa

Nelson Chamisa the leader for the main opposition CCC is more visible on X, posting bible verses daily. Chamisa has more than a million followers on X, his followers go beyond all news publications in Zimbabwe.

They call him X president.

He responds on very few instances when being grilled unless he is praised or pushed to the edge to comment.

Most of his posts are accompanied by Biblical verses: "We must multiply and spread ... Oppression is inspiration to fight and demand true freedom."

"But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the (oppressors) Egyptians came to dread the (Oppressed) Israelites". Exodus 1:12 #ResistDictatorship Sabbath", he tweeted.

Tatenda Mavetere

ICT, Postal and Courier Services minister Tatenda Mavetera needs a social media manager to avoid throwing unnecessary and copied messages on X.

Last month she just found herself at the center of a social media storm after she shamelessly copy-pasted Bill Gates’ quote without providing due credit.

The post read: “The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life”

Killer Zivhu

The former Chivi South MP has attracted so much traffic on his X handle through his tweets that leave followers with more questions than answers over his political views. Is he a Zanu-PF project? Today he is blasting Chamisa and tomorrow he is praising him.

"Why do you hate Advocate Chamisa, what is his problem, it's not a crime to be loved by many and this guy has a lot of followers if you can't accept it you will suffer from blood pressure and die, since 1980 he is the only young man who managed to fill up two stadiums in an hour.

"Don't hate someone who is loved by the whole country." Zivhu is also known for tweeting about his social life apart from politics.

Tendai Biti

CCC vice-president Tendai Biti's comments have in most cases exposed his inability to control his temper.

 Biti does not hesitate to hit a post button and probably he does not consider the public and his reputation when responding or sending new posts on social media.

A recent classic example is when he distanced himself from an announcement by the party’s self-proclaimed interim secretary general Sengezo Tshabangu that he (Biti) has taken over as co-president of the party alongside Welshman Ncube.

The diction used left people with more questions than answers.

“I am not the president of any political party.I refuse to be drawn in this mess. May my privacy and dignity be respected. #AsifuniUbumbulu,” he posted on X.

Some of his previous statements on social media have attracted heated debate leading to Biti pulling them down and saying he regretted his actions. Biti is too emotional.

*Evans Mathanda is a journalist and development practitioner who writes in his capacity. For feedback email: [email protected] or call 0719770038 and X @EvansMathanda19

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