Social media and the presidential address.
The president in his address to parliament the other day raised concerns about Social media and it’s purported abuse in Zambia. He spoke about the need to have social media regulated to avert its abuse, which according to him meant the use of abusive and insulting language against government officials among others.
From my standpoint social media is the only remaining platform citizens have to vent out about governmental indiscretions. It has also been a vital platform for exposing some of the grand corruption government officials are involved in.
Whereby ZNBC as a national broadcaster would shy away from certain topics, social media has accorded the citizenry opportunity to share and converse about the ills of our time, corruption. It is through social media that the Honeybee story gained traction to attract the attention of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee-PAC. It is also through social media that we came to learn about the former Zambia Air Force Commander’s indiscretions about his corruption prosecution among others. Sadly it doesn’t end at that, social media has also been a thorn in the President’s flesh as through it citizens have come to learn about his abrupt transition from a man of stroll to a rich man he has become now. I bet all these are issues that would only offend someone whose gains have not been orthodox hence the desire to nip it in the bud.
The desire to regulate social media to the discerning has nothing to do with its abuse. It has everything to do with its power to inform citizens about certain issues mainstream media would not be entertained to broadcast or report on. It is my considered view that currently as we sit, social media is adequately regulated. If not, how has it been possible to hear as we do that such a person has been arrested for defaming the president through social media?
Realising how close we are to the next general elections, it is such seemingly innocent presidential announcements that should concern us as a people. Whereby the civic space has been shrunk due to covid 19 regulations among others, one would not be naive to imagine such presidential pronouncements are nothing but innocent. They may be a machination to curtail citizens enjoyment of basic freedoms through their only available platform, social media.
Moreover abuse cant only be seen through social media. What ZNBC is currently doing is another form of abuse. They are a public broadcaster running on public finance but performing partisan functions by not covering the opposition whose membership also contribute to the taxes that sustain it. Why doesn’t he speak about the need to avert this abuse by compelling ZNBC to act fairly and professional by covering all, if he hates abuse? How about the abuse in government generally through acquisition of expired drugs and general thievery as presided by him at the helm?
Its my considered view that such pronouncements are nothing but scarecrow bent at instilling fear among citizens. If he hates the conversations trending on soial media, i would only appeal to him that he governs to the satisfaction of the masses so his leadership does not create content for citizens on social media. Moreover, why is it only abuse when he is critised but not when he is praised by ba Inno Ama Amelicans nomatter how much they get to the ends of the world to insult his opponents.
Sir start by caging your insulting lieutenants who blatantly insult innocent citizens in your name with the available legal regime. Should it be insufficient, shall we allow you to tinker with our social media space as you intend. For now we refuse to surrender our collective rights for your political expediency.