How truth, facts have lost meaning

20 Jul, 2016 - 00:07 0 Views
How truth, facts have lost meaning Evan Mawarire

The Herald

Evan Mawarire

Evan Mawarire

Bernard Bwoni Correspondent

It is very important that the Government makes a drastic shift from the rhetoric on corruption and introduce correctional measures to curb this damaging culture that has become embedded in the Zimbabwe psyche.

The Government has the responsibility and is accountable to the people of Zimbabwe. Their role is that of facilitating and putting into place policies, processes and systems for efficient service delivery, which are the safeguards against corruption.

They require nothing short of a committed and consistent follow-through. The people of Zimbabwe have repeatedly spoken out against corruption and urged the Government to tackle this economic dissipation.

The Government has not been deaf to the people’s cries about corruption, they have listened but the problem is that they have just listened and very little else. This is what has continued to agitate many and why Evan Mawarire’s message has been resonating with some.

It is very important that the Government makes a drastic shift from the rhetoric on corruption and introduce correctional measures to curb this damaging culture that has become embedded in the Zimbabwe psyche.

There is no value in merely talking about corruption because the culprits will simply carry on without care or attention even after being named and shamed. The people are agitated because they are not witnessing real consequences for those implicated or found guilty of corruption.

There is no point in empty threats that the Government is going to fight corruption when its architects are left to continue with the practice. The three arms of the State, Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary must work in a tight-knit format to tackle corruption more effectively.

If any arm of the State is compromised, then there is no point in even attempting to fight corruption. Each arm of the State must be razor-sharp in the fight against corruption and once blunted it affects the whole process. What Evan is selling to the people is nothing new but that does not make it any less important.

The issue of the many roadblocks and the constant soliciting of bribes by police officers has been recurrent and this has caused a lot of distress and inconvenience to the many motorists in Zimbabwe. On some roads there seem to be more roadblocks than street lights and it is shocking. The disproportionately high number of roadblocks is what is fuelling and sustaining corruption and frustrating motorists.

Those are the structural problems that need to be changed. Yes, there are instances where roadblocks or police presence is necessary, but some of it has just become a police get-together to extract some money out of the public.

Now one does not need to “shut down the whole country” to get his way. In any part of the world, as in Zimbabwe, there are appropriate channels to air grievances or to get an audience with the Government. Evan Mawarire has not exhausted or even started the engagement route.

He has gone directly for the kill with his threats and ultimatums. The Government of Zimbabwe has not closed any doors to engagement with the people who gave them the mandate with an overwhelming majority.

For Evan, it has never been about engaging the Government to air grievances, but something else. The movement has not engaged with the Government, but rather issued threats and ultimatums. All they have done is to urge people to stay away from work and force the Government to change certain policy decisions.

The speed at which everything is happening is mesmerising and one has to play catch-up all the time as events are moving at lightning speed. Evan posts a video on social media and the following day he expects the Government to make announcements that they are “withdrawing the introduction of bond notes and that they are withdrawing statutory instrument 64:2016”.

Now this is a private citizen in his own capacity who expects a whole Government with an electoral mandate to drop everything so as to fit in with his demands, some which have no sound basis at all.

There are issues of integrity that the flag movement has to address and these are pertinent issues. There have been shocking cases of manipulation and deliberate disinformation and lies to prop up the movement through deception.

On Monday July 11, 2016, social network sites were awash with reports of Evan having been “abducted by alleged State agents”. These reports provoked outrage and instant threats of “war against this Government” from some of his social media followers, unless Pastor Evan was released immediately by his “State abductors”.

It then turned out that the Pastor himself posted a video denying these claims of “abduction by State agents”. He confirmed that he was safe and sound and that he would be handing himself to the police on Tuesday morning.

Many of his friends were not convinced by the video he posted and some went to the extent of discrediting it as a fake video. They continued to share messages of solidarity demanding his release. It was only the following morning when images of him at Harare Central Police Station accompanied by his lawyers surfaced and this led many to abandon the narrative of the Pastor having been abducted by State agents. The outrage then shifted and they started asking why he was being questioned by the police for inciting violence through some of his utterances.

Pastor Evan’s misguided and devious call to shut down Zimbabwe flopped last week and the week before. The organisers and followers of this movement have been employing scare tactics and manipulative strategies to get people to heed their disorganised and self-serving calls to stay away from work.

There has been a proliferation of fake WhatsApp conversations being created and shared as genuine on social media for effect. There have been suspicious recordings of allegedly senior security and army officials claiming to be in support of the movement and that they are fed up with the Government.

Then there were fake letters claiming to be from companies such as Delta and Econet telling their employees not to go to work for the next two days of the planned stayaways. There were also fake Twitter accounts of celebrities from Beyoncé to Justin Bieber being created and claiming to be in support of the shutdown Zimbabwe campaign. Professor Jonathan Moyo had his Twitter profile cloned and a tweet created in his name claiming that he now had joined the movement and was “with the people”.

The lies, the deception and fraudulent methods being employed to propel public agitation against the State brings into serious doubt the sincerity and integrity of Evan and his followers.

The public is feeding off social media information whose authenticity and accuracy can never be guaranteed. Social media is about how instantly the message is relayed and the associated emotions and reactions.

Things are happening at a fast pace and the Government is having to play catch-up. It has now become virtually impossible to differentiate between fiction, falsehoods, fantasy and facts. The dividing line has become irrecoverably blurred.

Truth and facts have lost their meaning in this information jungle of regime change.

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