The long serving spokesperson to the president who has served two presidents has quite the low opinion of social media. He has blamed social media for a number of things in the last couple of years. He loves to give these smirky, ‘clever’ and dismissive comments about the technology.
War on social media
Charamba once tried this social media thing but he couldn’t stand the Twitter heat and he left the kitchen. After leaving the micro blogging site he then denied the Twitter account was his in the first place. From then on the man has jumped at every opportunity to be dismissive of all social media.
When the government switched off the internet in response to protests, the learned spokesperson had no remorse of any sorts. He declared the internet itself a weapon of mass destruction:
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,
He probably disappointed even his most avid admirers when he said investors don’t need the internet, they need peace. I don’t know how the two became mutually exclusive.
George Charamba promised that the internet will be shut down again:
The internet is always live all the time and so it becomes a tool for coordinating for those trying to cause chaos and mayhem in society. So yes, it will be suspended. It was suspended and it will be suspended in the future.
The man would not stop there. To show his utmost contempt for the internet and social media specifically, he told us not to believe all we read on President Mnangagwa’s Twitter. He even shared a cute story about the moment the president was shocked to see stuff written on his Twitter:
Just when we were in there, the President was drawing my attention to an attempt to as it were, to put words into his mouth using his Twitter account. So, don’t always believe that which is coming through…
However, the government contradicted Charamba and insisted the Twitter account was under the control of the president. The president himself came out and said the account is his and the views expressed are his.
Now, Mr Charamba
Mr Charamba here’s an opportunity for you to make clever comments about the use of social media during Cyclone Idai and in the ongoing relief efforts. If there have been moments one was proud to be Zimbabwean, this was the moment. Zimbabweans from all over mobilised themselves and resources to assist the hundreds of families whose lives were devastated by the natural disaster.
This was largely made possible by social media. Stories were shared, images were shared and rallying calls were issued. Zimbabweans responded, all on social media. George Charamba must talk about this.
It’s sad to admit that I don’t think we would have been informed enough about what was going on in Manicaland if there was no social media and hence we might not have known to mobilise. We have a government that believes in opaqueness, secrecy and propaganda. All we would have heard is probably that there had been ‘some storms’ in Manicaland. George Charamba must say it isn’t so.
Humans just being humans
Anyway, I thought I would tell Mr Charamba what social media and all technology is. It is just a platform where humans express their humanness nothing more.
Humans are the most beautiful creation ever and the ugliest of creatures imaginable at the same time. You will see the expression of both these extremes and everything in between on social media and in how any other technology is used.
Our response must not be against the technology when there is stuff we hate there. When the internet was shut, ordinary Zimbabweans lost their jobs, jobs they had created for themselves without any help from Mr Charamba’s government.
Human expressions of beauty or ugliness must not be assumed to be the fault of a technology. When we do that we make silly mistakes that affect other folks.
Response to Cyclone Idai was/is not the goodness of social media. It is the goodness of Zimbabweans and they are utilising the technology at their disposal to express it.
George Charamba likes quoting English cliches, here’s one: “A knife in the hands of a murderer and a knife in the hands of a surgeon..” Surely we can’t outlaw knives because there’s been a gruesome murder.