Is this a sign of one being technologically intolerant, or ignorant of the power of social media as the MDC president unequivocally bans the use of the only free media platform he so much cries for?
The recently released letter by the MDC president criticised the manner in which social media was being abused in pursuit of glorification of certain party members at the expense of the party. However, the letter received mixed feelings as interested parties questioned the leadership qualities of Mr. Tsvangirai.
By Gift Chirauro
Social media has become one of the greatest aspect in creating the benchmark for surviving. Life online has been a norm to the people, especially Zimbabweans. Since our media has embraced social media, they have started incorporating comment fields which will help people interact and get fully informed.
MDC-T, as a party that claims to be based on the principles of democracy as well as tolerance, love and empathy, its members should have the free world at hand. The members should be allowed to take part in utilising these cheap virtual platforms so as to increase the reach of the party.
As such, social media can be so vital to the party once it’s used correctly and with order. The platforms can help promote unity and also instill cohesion within the structures of the party. However, with them being banned, will this come to place?
After so much time trying to think what could have got into Tsvangirai’s mind, I had to ask myself if we can really have a leader who is purely democratic. Absolutely NO.
Leadership styles depend on the dictates of the circumstances prevailing that require decision making. The thing here is, a democratic leader is one who leans more on the democratic model and less on the dictatorial model of making decisions. With Tsvangirai banning social media, he tends to lean more on the former than the latter.
Research has it that politically slanted, partisan messages by parties are published and shared via numerous social media platforms. Some political parties are more active in their use of social media than others, but its use has undoubtedly become a necessity in partisan politics. This is because there is a significant potential, which MDC should take note of, for the politically partisan information shared by parties via social media to be shared or forwarded by other users.
The social media platform has helped much in certain political circles and would like to take you through some of the incidents.
Elsewhere in the world leaders embrace cheap social media to speak with the party faithful. A great example is Uhuru Kenyatta who has fully embraced social media as a cheap mass media for sharing bite-sized info to Kenyans. Hence, a truly democratic party welcomes dissenting voices, Mr. Tsvangirai.
Also, during Obama’s election campaign, it was, for a larger extent, systematically based on social media. Next to his website, Obama used fifteen Social media sites to run his campaign. This showed his understanding of the power of completing offline work with an online campaign. This should also click in the head of Tsvangirai so that he will link the online community to offline activities.
Furthermore, another positive case was the campaign of Segolene Royal during the French elections in 2007. The lady managed to connect with a massive online crowd. It is said due to her online campaign, party membership increased from 12 000 to 20 000 members.
However, one can argue that there has to be order and accountability in any organisation as well as approved channels of communication. Tsvangirai is not saying don’t use WhatsApp for personal use but criticised the way they were using it under the guise of MDC without any approval.
In addition, there is always need for an organization to regulate the behavior of its members. The social media should be used to strengthen not destroy the unity of the party.