So President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the first Zimbabwean president to have a social media presence. Well, we have only had three presidents in our 40 year history as a country called Zimbabwe! Point is though, the president embraced social media immediately upon taking his first oath of office.
He announced his presence with a video
The president announced his presence on social media with a video on Facebook and another on Twitter. He used his own mouth to announce, “This is my official Twitter pager.” This of course made all of us in media to take seriously what is shared on these platforms.
The government also is active on social media
In the past people like George Charamba who was spokesman for former president Robert Mugabe and is still spokesman for President Mnangagwa used to tell us to discount everything on social media attributed to the government. They would say, communication comes through ‘formal channels’ except that they neglected to tell us what those were.
It was a breath of ‘some’ fresh air to see the government make real attempts to be more accessible through the channels that people use for communication everyday. Particular mention must be made of the Ministry of Information. They really make an attempt to keep updates flowing.
This is not to say they always tell the truth. We are not always asking for the truth, we just want to know the official government position so we can make our own minds whether to believe it, reject it, make jokes out of it…
The president’s spokesman
George Charamba however, has never really done well on Twitter. He says a lot of things and dong that in the digital era can cause you to trip on your words so often it gets embarrassing. He got to a point where he denied ‘his own’ Twitter account.
A few days ago, George Charamba dismissed President Mnangagwa’s Twitter account as not always reflecting the president’s position on things. He even told a story saying the president himself had told him people were putting words into his mouth through the account.
Now the ministry of information
The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services has said what Charamba said is false. They insist whatever is posted on the president’s Twitter would have been approved by the president himself and reflects his views:
There maybe be many fake accounts in HE President Mnangagwa’s name but
@edmnangagwa is the legitimate voice of the President. Nothing goes on there but that which represents his views and positions on issues and that which he has explicitly cleared.
So is the president’s spokesman the president’s spokesman?
Zimbabwe would be a funny country if it were not so unpredictable and difficult to live in sometimes. The contradiction between Charamba and the Ministry of Information doesn’t make sense. If the ministry says the truth then it is Charamba and not Twitter that we must not always believe to be expressing the president’s views.
If so, then why is he still the president’s spokesman?