The recent cabinet reshuffle saw the reassignment of Hon Patrick Chinamasa from the Ministry of Finance to a newly enacted ministry, the Ministry of Cyber Security, Threat Detection and Mitigation. Following his appointment, many memes circulated on various social media websites mocking him and equating his new cabinet post to the National WhatsApp Group Administrator.
The government has already cited social media abuse as the main reason for the creation of this new ministry, but can we really say that social media use in Zimbabwe is a cyber security threat? While there is debate over whether this is a demotion or not, and whether the legal scholar and former Justice Minister possesses relevant digital skills to actually lead that ministry, there are some people, like Gideon, who are of the view that this new ministry is simply there to crack down on social media use in Zimbabwe that is threatening ZANU PF’s political stamina.
By Pearson Mbendera
“Social media has threatened the government. Look at the price hikes, last year’s demonstrations and the arrests of Pastor Evan Mawarire. They have to combat that threat if they want to win the elections next year. They even blocked social media sites for a while last year. ” said Gideon.
But he is not the only one echoing these sentiments, a lot of people are agreeing with him. While there are a lot of disgusting things that happen on social media everyday, creating a ministry for that seem like going to the extreme. And is it that really constitute social media abuse?
Social media use or rather abuse has been a huge topic in the world, with regulations put in place by governments and social media websites themselves to govern social media use so that the people’s freedom of expression online doesn’t infringe on other people’s rights.
But at times, curbing people’s freedom of expression online, seems to be something against the people’s human rights. Who decides what constitutes infringement? Is simply expressing yourself online a security threat?
Currently, Zimbabwe is ranked number 18 in Africa on the Global Security Index.
The success of this new ministry will depend on Chinamasa and whether or not he will comply with the government’s need to crack down on social media, something that Bernard said about Chinamasa and his role on cyber security.
“Chinamasa is not a pullover, that’s why he was removed from the Ministry of Finance because his policies weren’t the same populist policies that ZANU PF wants to enact.”noted Bernard.
Chinamasa has been in favour of some serious reduction on government spending, even advocating for the temporary elimination of bonuses for civil servants, factors that may have led to his recent reassignment.
We would love to hear from you, do you think there is social media abuse in Zimbabwe especially with regards to politics and the economy and is the government right to create this new ministry? Tell us what you think.