Zimbabweans have moved from an era where they solely depend on official broadcasters for information, as the emergence of social networks has even shifted the focus off mainstream publishing media houses, where popular social media accounts command respect and follower-ship.
However, I have personally noticed the main difference between general excitement towards new developments and organized movements to achieve a goal through social media, though the later is a mirage to our environment.
Zimbabweans since the last election have tested their first connected pre-election mode in a digital environment where social media access and general mobile and data penetration rates have greatly increased with more than 105% mobile penetration and 40% plus data penetration.
In a TED talk in October, Ms. Tufekci compared today’s social movements, in the Arab world and elsewhere, to “start-ups that got very big without knowing what to do next.”
Just clarify Civil disorder, also known as civil unrest is a broad term that is typically used by law enforcement to describe unrest that is caused by a group of people.
Arab Spring: Almost a year after Tunisia had erupted in mass demonstrations, the central Cairo protests triggered further waves of change across the Middle East and North Africa, in what became known as the Arab Spring
A guardian report despite western media’s love affair with the idea, the uprisings didn’t happen because of social media. Instead, the platforms provided opportunities for organization and protest that traditional methods couldn’t.
In the words of one protester, Fawaz Rashed: “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.”
Well in my own personal view this is what one Pastor Evan Mawarire #Tajamuka and many other disgruntled people are doing as they register dissent.
Their popularity has got honestly nothing to do with twitter, Facebook, Youtube or any other social media platform they are currently using. Ofcourse these are nothing but just channels aiding them while a majority are finding common cause due to rampant corruption, unemployment and lack of service amongst other issues .
The dissent and popularity of such accounts has nothing to do towards an organized social media revolution in Zimbabwe. Social networks do not organize movements but people organize movements on social networks, this simple piece of the puzzle makes a huge difference.
On 25 January 2011 hundreds of thousands of protesters started to gather in Tahrir Square and planted the seeds of unrest which, days later, finally unseated the incumbent president, Hosni Mubarak, after 30 years of power.
At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with “Twitter uprising” or “Facebook revolution”, as global media tried to make sense of what was going on.
But feelings of revolutionary success were short lived as Mubarak’s government was replaced by the equally repressive Muslim Brotherhood, before he was ousted by a military coup in July 2013. Eventually, the party was replaced by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, under whom state repression, intimidation and attacks on press freedom has gone from bad to worse.
But by the time the book was published, in 2013, those mass mobilizations for change had seemingly collapsed. Today, out of half a dozen Arab countries that witnessed uprisings, only Tunisia has managed to see its democratic transition through.
Across the region, the bloggers and activists who helped plan and publicize protests were sidelined by Islamist parties and military regimes. They have been silenced, imprisoned, or driven into exile, reported the Guardian.
However, the impact of social media was different in each particular country. Social networks played an important role in the rapid and relative peaceful disintegration of at least two regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, where the governing regimes had little or no social base, while also contributing to social and political mobilization in Syria and Bahrain, for example in Syria the SEA (Syrian Electronic Army) were established in order to target and launch cyber attacks against the political opposition and news websites.
Protests took place both in states with a very high level of Internet usage (such as Bahrain with 88% of its population online in 2011) and in states with one of the lowest Internet penetration (Yemen and Libya) .Only 40% or less of Zimbabweans are urban, while these are more influential to policy issues while not more thanaq than 70% of them have internet connectivity access.
A Majority of Zimbabweans do not watch the national Television in the name of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC,) Infact an estimated 90% of urban popular have alternative television transmission, thanks to ZBC poor content.
Social media becomes a critical source of both information and misinformation, either way it is only a tool in masses’ hand, how we use it has nothing to do with well its connected and organized.