Elections and the power of social media in Zimbabwe

Elections and the power of social media in Zimbabwe

By Benjamin Juru

Zimbabwe is getting close to the dreaded elections, an occurrence which evokes very sad memories particularly for those who fell victim to election violence in June 2008. As the we approach the 2013 elections, so much has changed, in fact the rules of engagement have changed because of social media. Needless to mention, the Egypt case presents a rude awakening to our politicians that social media has the potency to make or destroy a political system. As we draw close the pertinent question is what role is social media going to play in our elections? How will those who are so accustomed to blame games shield themselves against the power of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube? Put it into context, I was in town this other day and some teargas were being fired and immediately the natural response was for me to "Tweet" the incidence and within minutes people were calling and asking about it. Now imagine if God forbids there's some form of election violence how will our politicians blame, stop and shield themselves against these accusations when people begin to share these on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube?? With that in mind, we feel tempted to create a Twitter hashtag, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel for merely the purposes of exposing the nature of our politics to those outside our shores.

Imagine the power of a Facebook page where people report on violence? a Twitter Hashtag for alerting each other of unstable areas? a YouTube channel where people can upload videos? imagine all of that? With the advent of mobile internet which was not available in 2008 this year school kids in the rural areas can Tweet, send a Whatsapp, or post on Facebook and surely this is a game changer!!!! The temptation to create social media channels for election feedback is too much, even if we don't someone else is clearly destined to do so. However whilst social media will play a great role in disseminating information, we do not think it will be key in winning the elections. Give us your thoughts on the same.

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