On Wednesday 4 April, a rumor began spreading that Strive Masiyiwa would host a press conference announcing his entry into the political domain. Due to social media’s influence, a story that had begun as whispers in the corners of the internet became a sensational story
What actually happened?
A guy by the name Aaron Muzungu went with his associates to Media Centre on the 4th of April and asked them to coordinate a press conference for the soon to be announced United Movement for Democracy (UMD). Muzungu informed Media Centre that the agenda of the presser would be to announce the running of Strive Masiyiwa in 2018’s presidential election.
The press conference was cancelled but the news had already spread and now some will question Media Centre’s reputability. The organisers of the press conference said the conference was going to be in South Africa instead. However, these folks had also linked Mutumwa Mawere to this political party and Mawere has denied involvement. It looks like these are guys with a healthy imagination.
Media Centre have demanded an apology from the two gentleman who booked the press conference. So far they are refusing to apologise.
Fake news with an official twist…
In this case, it was not as simple as the many other times false attempts have been made alleging Masiyiwa’s interest in the political field. The involvement of Media Centre added a bit more legitimacy to the news this time around and people were probably more confident that finally Strive was entering the field of politics.
It seems people are very ready to believe anything and everything they read on the internet. Even worse, when it comes to something as essential as politics it seems people are very ready to accept anything that will give them hope. Maybe it is because people are in constant need of something to look forward to, or to hinge their hopes on something or someone in these uncertain times we find ourselves in the midst of.
Another problem why so many people choose to spread these rumours is because they know it will generate interaction as people have been hoping that Strive Masiyiwa enters politics for a while now. Whether this is actually possible for him to run for presidency when he has not been in the country for a while (since 2000, if I’m not mistaken).
Is it possible for a Zimbabwean who hasn’t been in the country for 18 years to run for the presidency? I think our constitution does not allow that so people should just leave the Econet boss alone If I am mistaken about the constitution please help out in the comments.
Personally, I think this was an incident meant to harm Media Centre’s reputation more than anything else but a couple of interesting points of conversation arise because of the incident.
Strive Masiyiwa and politics?
People can hope for whatever they like, but it seems, sooner or later we have to understand that Strive Masiyiwa may not be interested in entering the political field. And that’s just fine! He is a businessman and he has impacted Zimbabwe already. His entrance into the political arena as some ‘saviour’ may not turn out to be the case. Business acumen does not necessarily indicate political acumen (Donald Trump may be a good example, depending on where you stand). Maybe Strive Masiyiwa has intentionally shied away from politics because that is just not his cup of tea.
A colleague of mine actually believes there is more impact to be made through business than through politics. Maybe it is true sometimes.
What should be done about fake news?
Well, because of the basic human right that is free speech, it will be hard to actually regulate what people decide to publish on their websites. Malaysia wanted to impose a law against fake news but human rights activists are up in arms against that.
This incident is also an example that fake news is not only propagated online but can also be played out in the physical world. For Media Center, they were probably convinced by this request because it might not have occurred to them that someone would go to the extent of booking a venue in order to ‘prank’ the nation. If this is not an attack on Media Centre’s reputability then Aaron and his ‘associates’ have taken pranking to unforeseen levels.
I really don’t think there will be a perfect solution at any point- it’s best to stick to news publishers who are reputable and well-known. The chances that these sources will fall into that journalistic abyss that is fake news is unlikely.
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