Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter—
The Zanu-PF Politburo’s ban on the use of social media by members to communicate party issues or denigrate each other is progressive and will help instil discipline in the revolutionary party, analysts have said.The ban — which is with immediate effect — is contained in the resolutions of the party’s first Politburo meeting for 2016 held on Wednesday.
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The ban was triggered by the unprecedented behaviour of some party members who were engaging in frenzied tweeting, attacking fellow Politburo members and leaking classified information.
This attracted brickbats from party organs such as the Youth League and affiliate organisations like the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) and Zilwaco. The police also voiced concern over the same matter, saying abuse of social media could destabilise the country.
ZNLWVA secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda described the ban as progressive. He, however, said it was saddening that some Politburo members had already resorted to Twitter barely a day after the ban.
This, Cde Matemadanda said, was retrogressive to the party’s operations. “If followed, this will bring sanity in the party,” said Cde Matemadanda. “Unfortunately, someone who was in that Politburo meeting today (yesterday) has already tweeted something about the party and attacking The Herald.
“I think what the party should focus on at the moment is teaching its members discipline and party ideology. Discipline is important at all levels to avoid careless speeches that we saw some people presenting yesterday. “People should be taught discipline and not what we are seeing today where one making the loudest noise is the one who carries the day.”
Cde Matemadanda said differences might occur in the party, but they should be addressed through party channels.
“Differences might be there, but they should be resolved amicably using structures of the party,” he said. “The public spats that we saw recently by senior members of the party are not good for the country’s image. It actually scares away investors. No one wants to invest in a country where there is discord in the leadership.”
Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo was already on twitter early in the morning yesterday discussing the outcomes of the Politburo meeting.
“Great & brutally frank PB till midnight,” he said in one of his tweets. “Slept like a log. Use not abuse but USE of all PRESS & MEDIA to express grievances was condemned!
“Rega vaite. Very happy with how PB meeting went. Going foward actions will speak louder than words. Handei tione! It was agreed after brutal debate that internal fights should not be taken to the press including twitter & Herald!
“If people who are not PB members get funny in the Press we shall deal with them here. Make no mistake about it!” Prof Moyo charged. Prof Moyo, who is also the party’s secretary for Science and Technology, tourched a storm before the Politburo meeting by attacking fellow members on his twitter account.
Prominent Harare lawyer Mr Jonathan Samkange said constitutionally, there was nothing wrong with banning members of a political party from using social media. “Zanu-PF is like a club and if you want to remain as a member of a club then you have to abide by the rules and regulations of that club,” he said.
“It is proper and it does not contravene the Constitution in any way. We have freedom of association in this country and anyone who is not happy with that is free to leave the party. There is nothing unconstitutional unless if Zanu-PF had said it was banning everyone in this country from using social media.”
Political analyst Mr Godwine Mureriwa said: “The ban (on social media abuse) is a step in the right direction. There are various departments in the Politburo such as the commissariat, information, production and administration, but it is important that people stick to their portfolios.
“This also helps to maintain the idea of one centre of power in the party. It is important to note that the President himself categorically spoke against the use of social media.
“The behaviour of abandoning party structures and being quoted in the private media is tantamount to indiscipline of the highest order. These Politburo members are also leaders in Government and they again meet in Parliament, so then we wonder why they choose to communicate through social media when they work in the same office almost every day?”
Mr Mureriwa hailed First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe for reminding party leaders that they had a mandate to work for the people rather than engaging in petty and peripheral issues.
Zanu-PF spokesperson, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, on Wednesday, said party members who failed to heed the party’s directive would be dealt with in line with Zanu-PF’s disciplinary procveddures.