Internet shutdown anachronistic

By Alwyn Mabehla | 19 Jan 2019 at 12:09hrs
The advent of new media brought in a wave of innovative approaches to the distribution and acquisition of knowledge.

What the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government is doing in shutting down the Internet in the face of growing criticism and social unrest is behind the times.

The Fourth Principle of the Declaration of Principles issued by the Geneva session of the World Summits on the Information Society in December 2003, provided a clear confirmation that new forms of communication should be afforded the same freedom of expression rights as traditional news media.

What we can probably do in the meantime, while the minister of National Security and his colleagues haggle on when to switch back the country to the global world, is put forward some form of vindication on why they decided to put the country 50 years back.

Maybe they decided Zimbabweans are an irresponsible lot who cannot be trusted with new media.

Probably, social media is fomenting the unrest that swept across the country for the better part of this week.

Personally, I cannot look beyond this, as I am struggling to grasp mentally why this government decided to do such a preposterous thing.

Zimbabweans already have been divided, lied to countless times, made to suffer from a plethora of plights - diseases, false hope, hunger, profiteering by this same government.

The majority of us have been made to think certain individuals have solutions to every problem we face and tragically it is the citizens who ended up worse.

The economic nightmare is slowly getting worse everyday and the nation is on the edge of implosion and strife.

What is much more baffling is government's stance and reaction to the citizen's honest-to-goodness grievances.

This absurd approach of shutting down is a foul-smell to democracy.

It is difficult to understand how Mnangagwa and his army of ministers hope to deal with the growing economic catastrophe given the apparent casual approach they are exhibiting.

Mnangagwa is on record saying his leadership is a departure from the Robert Mugabe administration and even promised servant leadership, but shockingly they are making a mockery of the thousands that ululated to his accession to the presidium.

This tyranny of shutting down democratic space is an upgrade to the Mugabe way of doing things and it is clear they are making him a saint he never was.

Promises to deal with the currency problems will not be acceptable to the suffering masses that cannot envisage the prolonging of the current status quo.

Zimbabweans maybe a tolerant lot who value peace, but then it must be known that the survival instinct has the last word, whether they decide to open up the democratic space or not.

That instinct, today, and even tomorrow, will always present the real threat to national stability - insensitive arrogance this government is anachronistic.

What this government might need to do is to create a mindset of responsibility to its citizens.

The government needs to accept that things are really bad in this country and saying that we all need to take some pain while they go about gallivanting in the far ends of the world doesn't really help the suffering lot.

The task of government on its citizens should be to make 2019 much more bearable and such an understanding should be made concrete to affirm the place of the Internet in the society.

Mnangagwa should know that Zimbabwe is a nation and that we do not belong to fragmented groups, it is the nation, which is crumbling while we believe individual groups are good for the nation.

That view is making sections of our society to tolerate every silly misstep by this government.

It is a fact that the Internet permits an unprecedented empowered individual, this is why it is a great worry that a government which purports to be for its citizens dashes to block the Internet.



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