#OutAndAbout: Of Social Media Freedom Of Expression And Politics

The events leading to the resignation of Robert Mugabe saw many people enjoy a lot of freedom on social media. A lot of content was created mocking the former president and his wife, something that would have been regarded as a crime prior to this period. An American citizen Martha O’Donovan was once arrested for insulting the president in a tweet.

It hasn’t been easy navigating social media with politically themed content and one, Mustafa Chikavhu, a Zimbabwean in Australia found himself in trouble when a video he made imitating Grace Mugabe went viral. This week in our #OutAndAbout segment we talked to him about the video he made and his thoughts on social media freedom of expression given the new political leaf we have just turned.

By Pearson Mbendera

“I made a video while in Australia and some guy, a CIO, contacted me, asking me to take down the video.”

The video can be found on many platforms and has been reposted several times on iHarare Extreme Facebook page.

Mr Chikavhu, who has a quite an online presence with 5000 friends on Facebook, the maximum number of friends one can ever have on the social media site, and he hopes that he can keep on sharing his hilarious content online without fearing for his life as long as it doesn’t infringe on other people’s rights.

“Now we can enjoy some freedom of expression on social media. During the Mugabe era, you could not make fun of or openly criticise ZANU PF politicians for fear of victimization, but things opened up when the military intervened” added Mr Chikavhu.

But he is not sure that it will always be like this. While the new president has expressed that he will endeavor to do things differently, Mr Chikavhu isn’t yet convinced that we have also turned a new leaf as far as the freedom of expression on social media with regards to political content is concerned.

 A lot will be clarified with the cabinet which is yet to be announced. Of interest is to see whether the ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation will still be in existence considering it was largely designed to curb social media abuse in the country.

We hope that people will continue enjoying these rights on social media, expressing themselves fully without the threat of being prosecuted for pointing out their own concerns over the leadership of the country.

While the role of the Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation may be made irrelevant in as much as going rigorously after social media abuse, there are a lot of cyber threats that needs the attention of the government, may be the ICT, Postal and Courier ministry may handle all that.

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