Social Media and National building in Zimbabwe

By Pauline Hurungudo

Within the political discourse, many strategies have been used to bring about change and push the development agenda throughout the world. Social Media networks have emerged as effective tools and have since synthesised the globe and people by bridging the continental distance influencing national discourses. Their political role is no longer debatable due to clear stimulus which cuts across nations and continents. Undeniably, this conduit has since created a new dispensation set out to bring change in economics and politics setting out a new trajectory in societies.

Zimbabwe in particular, amongst many other nations such as Egypt, India and Libya, has set new trajectories which were highly influenced and mobilised through social media. To some extent, it has provided a safe hub for protestors who have in the past been violated by governments security forces and opposing forces.

The creation of anonymous identities on social media platforms such as twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, has given voice to the overshadowed idealists and ordinary citizens in many nations. The anonymity itself shows some kind of fear and yearn for freedom of expression and speech which is denied in many nations especially in Africa. However, this anonymity has also caused havoc and harm in some nations which has led to racism (one example is from the white supremacists), bomb attacks and divisions which also have affected national peace and stability in some countries.

Nevertheless, social media platform’s role in nation building is very significant especially in many countries, such as Zimbabwe, which have recorded used the platforms to encourage nation building through protests, productive political discussions, debates, dissemination of information and citizen journalism. Part of the battle for the current new political dispensation was lobbied for on social media platforms which was mainly used by Zimbabwean people for debates as well as information dissemination. It also brought in the involvement of the diaspora who, for the first time, participated in nation building in order to bring a new order in Zimbabwe.

To date there is a reliance to social media by many to voice out concerns and perhaps push for the government to address social political and economic issues which are clouding the society. Many seen to see it as a short cut in appealing to the government to address issues such as the Me too Campaign (Hashtag-Metoo), of women who were protesting against sexual abuse, is an example of a social media debut in October 2017 which managed to get the European parliament convene a session directly in response them.

Henceforth, social network platforms cannot be ignored by politicians and governments. Some Zimbabwean MPs and national leaders including the president E.D Mnangagwa have adopted these in a bid to synthesis with the ordinary citizens. They have become platforms that the leadership can adopt to hear the voice of the people, and imperatively, the thermometer that the government can also use to check the condition of the nation and its people in order to build effectively and encourage sustainable development.