Let us desists from peddling falsehoods

by Grace Chekai

Zimbabweans need to be warned over propagating malicious falsehoods. Members of the opposition party MDC Alliance have perfected this diabolical propaganda technique in pursuit of their “Kudira Jecha” strategy meant to mess up with Government`s efforts in turning around the economy, in a bid to topple it.

Falsehoods during this COVID-19 pandemic, which the Secretary General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Antonio Guterres termed infodemic has reached unprecedented levels with some citizens who seem to be supporters of the MDC party and activists in the past week, celebrating the death of Zanu PF officials and disseminating false death announcements of other officials in the ruling party.

This un-African and moral bankrupt behaviour of celebrating death and pronouncing predictions for others led the Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Aaron Nhepera to issue a statement warning Zimbabweans against spreading fake news on the death of the leadership of the country as it “infringe on other people’s rights and cause unnecessary distress and anguish among the people affected”.

Above all things peddling of falsehoods is against Section 31 of Criminal Code. The Criminal Code states “Publishing or communicating a statement intending or realising risk or possibility of inciting or promoting public order or public violence or endangering public safety, with alternative charge, sec 31 (a)(iii)-undermining public confidence in law enforcement agency.”

The MDC Alliance Spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere found this the hard way when earlier this month was arrested for breaching that law. This is after Mahere tweeted false sentiments that, “Police Officer strikes, kills little baby with baton in Harare.” Mahere published this with the intention of tarnishing the image of the Zimbabwean government as per her party’s agenda, but her arrest should be a foretaste of what is going to happen going forth. Unrepentant falsehoods peddlers will be dealt with in the same manner.

One can actually conclude that desperation in the opposition party has reached alarmingly shameless levels, to cover up their lack of political strategy to unseat Zanu PF from power.

The social media, which the opposition in the country has adopted as a duck to the water, is no strategy, they can inquire that from Bobbi Wine, an opposition figure from Uganda who recently lost election despite claiming popular social media presence. Nelson Chamisa, himself can attest to that truth that social media followers do not amount to votes.  

Social media remains a powerful communication tool, but can never be a substitute for political strategy nor propagating falsehoods be substitute for viable developmental projects that endear voters to their preferred candidates.

Zimbabweans need to desist from using social media platforms as a means to cause division and hostility through publishing falsehoods. Let us desist from peddling falsehoods and concentrate in building our nation. We all want a better Zimbabwe. Social media falsehoods cannot be a tool to unseat constitutionally-elected government, because at the end of the day the truth always comes out.

Recently social media was awash with lies that the COVID-19 vaccine will be insufficient to cater for all Zimbabweans so it will only be given to the Government officials, health practitioners and the security sector. However, in a tweet, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity Ndabaningi  Mangwana put the record straight when he posted that, “Zimbabwe plans to buy sufficient coronavirus vaccines to inoculate about two-thirds of its population.”

It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to tell us that peddling falsehoods would not unite us or build the Zimbabwe we all want. We are all experiencing the devastating results of being divided as proven in the past twenty years of political polarisation. The Good Book already told us that “A house divided against itself will not stand.”