Gearge Charamba is in Eastern Europe on a tour with President Mnangagwa. He made comments on the shutdown of the internet by the government in an interview with the ZBC whilst on this trip. At least he has not issued a silly lie like the Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Energy Mutodi.
Well the silly lying boat sailed when Econet notified its customers why the internet had not been accessible from Tuesday to Wednesday last week and then again on Wednesday night up to late Thursday afternoon. Access to social media was blocked early morning on Tuesday the 15th and it is still blocked right now.
Charamba sounded his usual cocky and clever self:
The internet was the tool used to coordinate the violence, in other words it was part and parcel of the accessory of tools put in place to ensure that there was maximum damage on our society and naturally when you are reacting to a conspiracy of that nature….you ensure that society is protected. But is it not interesting how when we are carrying our dead to the cemetery, at a time when we are counting losses that run into millions of dollars, someone is worried about the internet. I think the Western world has a proverbial way of putting it: ‘Worrying about or crying over the plumage of a bird and forgetting the dying bird,’ does that make sense to you? You expect us to preserve the internet and ensure that there is maximum damage to our society? What is wrong with our scale of values? I don’t think Zimbabweans are that confused. What we are looking at is a weapon of choice which was being deployed to try and coordinate violence, which has now been removed, thanks to the prompt action of the state, there is no way you expect us to sacrifice a national good for the sake of internet. If they want uninterrupted internet, let them abide by the law,
Stopping loss of millions by cutting billions
What Charamba says sounds reasonable and logical until you give it an extra second of thought. By saying that we can’t worry about the shutting down of the internet because we are counting losses that run into millions, he betrays his lack of understanding of the impact of the impulsive action to shut down the internet.
Millions more were lost and more lives put in danger by shutting down the internet. Payments could not go through. some internet dependent medical and social services were inaccessible. Zimbabweans who have created employment for themselves online lost their jobs. Thousands that just wanted to be safe and to know what was going on so they could make decisions were immobilised.
People did not go to work on Thursday and Friday because they had no information on what was going on. No information is worse than scary information.
Billions (the numbers that the government touts whenever the president goes on foreign trips and shakes a couple of hands) of potential investments were lost. As the editor of the Financial Mail in South Africa said, “You would be a fool to invest in a country that would just deny it’s citizens the internet…”
The internet is a reality of modern business and who would put their billions in a country where they can lose contact with those billions because some people took to the streets? Who would trust a government to be fair, consistent and stable when they think the switch to the internet is a toy to be played with? Oh yes we lost billions!
Dig up the road to stop the robbers
By saying that the internet had to be shut because it was being used as a tool, Charamba is doing nothing but clutching at straws and making excuses. They might as well have shut down all that’s left of water supplies in the towns and cities because the ‘plotters’ have been drinking it and using it to survive.
This is not guerrilla warfare were bombing fuel reserves was considered strategic. This is supposed to be a civilian government responding to protests against itself. Yes those protests became violent and that cannot be excused but neither can taking away a public utility. Charamba’s sense of ‘scales’ is wrong.
Them and us
George Charamba says, “If they want uninterrupted internet, let them abide by the law.” Who does he refer to as ‘they’ and ‘them?’ The internet was cut off for the whole population. So the whole population has been breaking the law?
By relegating us to ‘them’ the president’s spokesman is revealing a superiority syndrome that is not healthy to anyone when held by a person who occupies such a high office.
So yes Sir our superior we want uninterrupted internet please Sir, we have been good citizens…