Patrick Chinamasa, acting spokesperson of ZANU-PF, the party that has governed the country since independence from Britain in 1980, alleged Zimbabwe’s colonial masters were using social media to “discredit icons like Mnangagwa”.
“Sanctions against Zimbabwe and the orchestrated social media attacks against our president and first family are the modern-day equivalents of public beheading and lynching in colonial times,” Chinamasa said at a weekly news briefing.
He equated social media attacks on Mnangagwa and his family to attacks faced by heroes of anti-colonial wars,
Political analyst and commentator Rejoice Ngwenya criticised the statement by the police, saying the move trampled fundamental rights such as freedom of expression.
Recent police warning was designed to silence Mnangagwa’s critics on social media such as award-winning documentary filmmaker Hopewell Chin’ono, an anti-corruption campaigner who faces trial on charges of inciting violent anti-government protests, and pro-democracy activist Pedzisai Ruhanya.
“It’s subjective to say that when you comment and share your view about Collins Mnangagwa (Mnangagwa’s son) or Emmerson Mnangagwa … on social media, it amounts to trolling or harassment,” Ngwenya said. “Who judges that this is cyberbullying and what are the criteria?”
Human rights campaigners and rights groups in recent months have decried an “unprecedented” clampdown on dissent that has resulted in the arrests of dozens of activists and opposition officials. The government has denied stifling opposing voices.