LISTEN: What exactly is ‘social media abuse’?

Last week Monday, I joined the host of Star FM’s #TheHub programme to quiz the ICT Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira on what exactly Government regards as ‘social media abuse’ and to get clarity on Government’s stance regarding social media i.e is Government planning to ban/regulate it?

In this 3-part interview, Min Mandiwanzira responds. I add a few quotes from the discussion and will leave you to ponder them.

Mandiwanzira on Government’s ‘official stance’:

The official stance is that social media is an important tool for development…..but we must promote the responsible use of social media

Mandiwanzira on what constitutes social media:

When we talk about abuse we are talking about things that undermine the rights of others….things that are illegal in the context of our country’s laws

Mandiwanzira on how Government views criticism:

They are talking about we don’t want you to criticise the President or to criticise ministers. Well, we like criticism…

Mandiwanzira on claims that he stole money from parastatals:

I think that they must produce evidence… There has been stories that I took $200 000 and I drive a $200 000 car, what nonsense!

Mandiwanzira on identifying those who abuse social media:

Zimbabweans, especially the bad apples, must never fool themselves that they cannot be found. Every item you use has an address….people must not hide behind technology and think they are smart

Mandiwanzira on dealing with users who abuse social media:

I think the people who must regulate social media are its users. When you see as a user of social media somebody abusing it and sending you child pornography, report them to the police….there are laws that already deal with that….

You lied, Delta

In 2011, I said something so unpopular that several of my close friends took me to task over it.

But of all the people who vehemently disagreed with me; I remember that Munyaradzi (who’s more like a young brother to me) called me a liar.

In reaction to a blog post titled, I once met a Zimbabwean…, Munyaradzi really let me have it, lol… and given the fact that he is quite fond of me…it says something for him to have responded in such a vehement fashion:

I must say how disappointed I am in you for allowing emotions instead of simple logic to run you my dear, first of all, you as a journalist you must be aware of the donor funding that is circulating in this country, if the Americans want to fund internet access, they can, and let us not be naive about that.

The issue that America does not have a perfect democracy does not exonerate us from the injustice that has been suffered in this country.

It is no reason why there were land grabs that caused more harm than good, it is no reason why the militia was let loose on the general populace.

The violence that has been a common feature in the political landscape, families that have been crippled families.

It is not all rosy as you were trying to paint.

We have weaknesses and the first step of emancipation is accepting who we are and that we surely need help.

The economy is struggling because of people who are so ignorant and refuse to be told anything. You lied as our representative Delta.

“Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.” ― Joseph Joubert

And in my response, on the comments section of the same blog post – I said:

You are proving my point Munya….. my point was and is – that what you have just narrated is ALL that is known about Zimbabwe…

But if anyone, including you, wants to argue that what you have outlined above is the entirety of the Zimbabwean story – then I certainly differ with them.

You want to talk about the land grabs; why don’t you go right back to the beginning of the dispute over the land and to why the land was such a contentious matter?

That way you can fully appreciate the extreme sense of frustration that must have driven those people to take such drastic and unlawful courses of action.

While I totally condemn the unlawfulness of what they did – no one can deny the legitimacy of their grievances – not even you.

No one can deny the moral claim that they (and we all) have to the land.

Please don’t just pick out nyaya yema-land grabs as if it was all an isolated event and not part of a greater process in which blacks tried (without much success) to remedy a historical wrong of land dispossession.

And in trying to remedy this wrong – some took the law into their hands and invaded the farms.

They were wrong – it is true.

BUT what was done to them – to us – (dispossession) was wrong as well.

There is no need for me to be emotional when there is a clear historical context to explain the events and possible motives that I believe contributed to the chaotic, violent and infamous land grabs.

My question now is – who ever tells that side of the story? The story that goes beyond just the grabbing of the land?

Who ever tells the story of a disenfranchised black majority and a privileged white minority?

Who ever bothers to explain the deep feelings of frustration, disgruntlement and genuine grievance that I believe fueled the land grabs?

Who ever bothers to mention that men and women went and got killed fighting to own a piece of land?

This is the missing part of the narrative Munya.

I am not disputing what you have raised but I think in leaving out the context (or regarding it as irrelevant) you perpetuate an incomplete narrative of Zimbabwe and a distorted account of the land dispute.

So I told the stories no one else seems to bother about and the stories no one seems to care to remember…because they are all stories about Zimbabwe – in its various epochs and each successive event triggering a myriad of reactions.

If you concentrate only on the “consequences” of things and ignore the causes… how can you then state that you have done justice to the story of our nation?

In it’s ugliness, in its splendor – we must own our history and we must tell it and we must occasionally use it to understand our present.

What you have narrated is what is already out there – who is going to tell the bits that you have left out??

So having established in my post from yesterday that I have a right to be wrong – this post is about continuing a conversation around the emotive land issue.

It is a conversation I started in a YouTube video (whose backlash was the subject of my last blog post) and it is a conversation that carried over to the blog post which is the subject of this current post and it is a conversation that carried over into my MA dissertation where the enlightening views of academics such as T.O Ranger, Blessing-Miles Tendi, Sabelo Gatsheni-Ndlovu, Sarah Chiumbu, James Muzondidya, Brian Raftopolous, Norma Kriger, Sue Onslow among many others shed a lot of light on my own preoccupations with Zimbabwe’s history and the centrality of the land question.

I am still on a quest to fathom the meaning and nuances of it all. And if advancing unpopular views and playing the devil’s advocate is a price to pay for a more honest reflection on the issue – then I will exercise my right to be wrong and defy every ideological bully who would presume to insult me into ‘submission’.

How can we know the answers if we’re too scared (of what people will think of us) to ask the questions?