How Social Media Followed Zimbabwean Military Takeover Activities And Print Media Failed

Leonard Sengere Avatar

You have no doubt been following the whole situation with the military implementing the National Democratic Project. You have heard that the president is under house arrest and several other top politicians have been taken into custody. This information and more has been distributed over the internet.

For most of us, story links, images, photos and videos are only available on social media.

Print Media And State Media

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces through General Chiwenga addressed the nation and announced that they would be stepping in to remove the criminals around the president who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country.

That right there is news but what did ZBC and The Herald do with that news? Nothing. They did not publicise the address. They pretended nothing had happened. The Herald only then published responses to the address by individuals and organisations all speaking against the the military’s move.

Major General Moyo said this about the Herald and ZBC,

Fellow Zimbabweans, following the address we made on 13 November 2017 which we believe our main broadcaster, ZBC and The Herald were directed not to publicise, the situation in our country has moved to another level.

If you needed further proof that The Herald reports on news with a bias, there it is, as Major General Moyo noted. Most of us gave up on ZBC TV a long time ago. Biased reporting and terrible programming all around made that decision all too easy to make.

The fact remains though that there is a good number of Zimbabweans who do not have access to ZBC TV’s alternatives like Kwese TV and DSTv or even just the internet for services like Netflix and news. If someone relied on just state media for news they would only have gotten to know about the military takeover much later than it happened.

For those with Kwese or DSTv, they could follow the news on the many news channels on both pay-TV services.

The military actually had to take over the ZBC for the message to be aired on ZBC TV this morning.

The above scenario meant that for us ordinary Zimbabweans to get the news as it happened we had to look to social media and online publications.

The above mainly pertains to state media but print media as a concept is fast becoming obsolete.

Print media has the inherent disadvantage that they cannot report on the news as it happens as they cannot print a new paper every time there is a new development. They may publish a special edition paper maybe in the afternoon but they will be providing stale news by then as social media would have distributed the news within minutes of it happening.

Print media requires heavy investment and goes through a rigorous licensing process which means in the end there are wealthy individuals or organisations in control. These persons will usually steer the news reporting in the direction they want. The Herald being the case in point. News was filtered to suit the interests of individuals.

Social Media

Absolutely no one controls what is shared on social media and that meant that within moments of General Chiwenga making his address we all had the video in our phones, the same video that The Herald and ZBC refused to publicise.

We knew about army tanks on the streets as soon as they left their barracks because social media allows there to be real time reporting. No editors sifting through the footage trying to find the angles they can take to support their own beliefs. This is probably the biggest advantage social media has over print media, real time unfiltered reporting.

Social media is not perfect though. Its strengths are also its weaknesses. No one is there to verify the news as sent out and so there is the risk of fake news spreading. Some have taken to WhatsApp to shamelessly create their own accounts of the situation in this country. It can be difficult to know what is true and what is false sometimes.

So the problem with social media is that the burden of responsibility rests with everyone involved. It is then given that false reports will spread, some just can’t help it. Some will report their own predictions as facts. You can follow these social media accounts to get more reliable reports.

In our current situation though, social media served us better than state media. Print media just could not compete.

With addresses coming in the form of live streams, access to the internet becomes important.


  1. Spencer Zimuto

    Thank you

  2. Sagitarr

    In a world now so full of all sorts of “noise”, the process of sifting out this noise can be a heavy load if the signal to noise ratio is less than 1. There are no minimum “entry level” barriers for one to start transmitting noise on social media, that alone puts me off completely. Some do not know the difference between opinion and facts. Some are not even aware that images & videos can be “doctored” or “dubbed” and most do not even know how easy it is to be tracked (by govt officials) using the same systems they shout from. It must be a crazy world when every Tom, Dick & Harry becomes an “expert”. Some messages are transmitted by people you can clearly see are not gifted in the science and art of thinking but have smartphones, airtime and “fingertime” at their disposal. If this is greatness, I’ll have no part of it. The first prize for stupidity goes to those who think playing videos at loud volume is a sign of being intelligence or achievement or up to date or whatever. Listen to your BS alone!!

    1. H.E. B. Makoni

      What the army has done is highly commendable considering that we were being led by a man who gave the world the pretence that he was in charge when in actual fact had long unconstitutionally abdicated power that he stole to his psychotic wife. I do not consider the army action as a coup d’état but rather a coup de grace. Robert Mugabe and his opportunistic cronies thought they were clever and could fool all Zimbabweans all the time by hiding behind the veil of constitutionalism. I say good riddance to bad rubbish. This should be regarded is the first step to true liberation of the people. My advice to the army is, quickly ensure a smooth transition to civilian rule pending free and fair elections. SADC and EU can go to hell as they were not helping desperate Zimbabweans when they were being subjected to the whims of an old man and crazy woman.

  3. NdiribhoTV

    We at NdiribhoTV, try our best to confirm stories before publishing.

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