Citizens have blasted recent bids by the MDC Alliance to misinform the public on Government policies, in an attempt to separate the people from the Second Republic with a view to remaining politically relevant.
On numerous occasions, the Alliance has been caught deliberately circulating misinformation pieces, with letterheads purportedly coming from Government ministries and departments distributed via various unregulated social media platforms.
The embattled opposition Alliance having suffered an electoral defeat to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018, and likely to suffer another defeat in the pending 2023 elections, has reverted to kudira jecha (throw sand) even on the noblest of Government policies, which could benefit their constituencies.
Investigations conducted by this reporter revealed that the MDC Alliance has a well-oiled information department that is tasked with creating and circulating fake news articles and statements allegedly coming from official Government ministries and departments to counter Government policy announcements.
Further, it was observed that, this ploy would be used whenever an important policy announcement was made by Government- the Alliance would also make a counter announcement from the purportedly same ministry to contradict the official one.
In some instances, the Alliance having obtained information on a soon- to-be announced Government policy from their members working in Government would be the first to release the statement before the official Ministry releases it.
The effect of this ploy would be that when the responsible Ministry releases its statement on a public issue, it would be discredited and gullible citizens would be confused and thereby undermine Government directives.
Investigations also established that this is grand scheme to create a perception in people’s minds that there is lack of congruency in various Government departments.
Closer to memory, just this last Saturday,17 July 2021, some gullible citizens had their stomachs rumbled up by fake news alleging that Mbuya Nehanda statue at Samora Machel and Julius Nyerere intersection had collapsed after a haulage truck with foreign number plates had rammed into it.
What is shocking is the speed and ferocity with which the alleged fall of the statue was forwarded, tweeted and retweeted on MDC Alliance WhatsApp groups, Twitter handles and Facebook groups.
Those that do not intimately know the geography and outlook of Harare could have been easily fooled!
Even so, some online news websites made a killing with the fake breaking headline story on their sites.
One could but ask themselves, if some of these online news sources are not part of the MDC Alliance misinformation ploy and if they are not recipients of large sums of money to help tarnish the country’s image?
Just yesterday, I had conversations with some friends over the alleged ZANU PF ban on miniskirts and trousers for women!
While, ZANU PF quickly distanced itself from the pseudo announcement, the source is clear and so was the objective- to increasingly undermine ZANU PF integrity and character of the ZANU PF-led Second Republic.
Disgruntled citizens had to register their disappointment with the proliferation of fake news on social media.
“It is high time Government does something about the increase in fake news stories some of which can be traced to some online news websites and WhatsApp groups,” lamented one Grace Moyo on Facebook.
“…it was very easy for me to notice that the statue said to be Mbuya Nehanda was in fact nowhere near Zimbabwe…I don’t understand why people would wish ill upon their own country. Perhaps it is about power or politics but it’s very bad,” responded a netizen identified as Chirandu on Facebook.
In light of these developments, I think there is need to arrest peddlers of fake news, if they could be positively identified in this age of digital media maybe the immense damage they pose to the public could be curtailed.
Fake news cannot be tolerated especially in the context of Covid-19 where access to accurate information is a powerful resource that should be deemed as a human right.
The overall success of the country’s economic developments and fight against Covid-19 hinges on how the public perceive the accuracy of the information they read online and we cannot have a society where fake news thrives.
Like the rest of the world, Zimbabwe would continue to battle with fake news, however efforts should be made to make perpetrators punishable.
The sustainability of our communities depends on healthy accurate information.