Amedia scholar, Dr Mphathisi Ndlovu says there is a high possibility that there will be a surge in online propaganda, hate speech, flaming, and cyberbullying as the country heads toward the 2023 general elections.
He shared his insights during a Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) think tank meeting on key electoral reform challenges, gaps, demands and strategies held in Bulawayo on Thursday.
Presenting o socio-economic scenarios, challenges and gaps in implementing socio-economic development policy reforms, Dr Ndlovu said it is likely that social media will become a sight of struggle between different forces.
He said platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and News websites will see different viewpoints being contested.
“My argument is that as we move towards 2023, there is a possibility that there is going to be what some of our researchers call social media dissidents, where they argue that social media will become a space where people will be contesting, will become space where ordinary people, activists, will be using social media to challenge to those who are in power,” said Dr Ndlovu.
He added that people will be using social media to expose issues to do with maladministration and corruption.
“Twitter will become a prominent space, there is that possibility that Twitter will turn into a battleground for political and ideological struggles because these digital spaces constitute a site of struggle for regimes of truth,” said Dr Ndlovu.
Meanwhile, he said in terms of the socio-economic issues, there is a possibility that the situation is going to worsen and this may have implications on the outcomes of the 2023 elections.
“My first argument is that the socio-economic hardship will most likely worsen, this is informed by what is happening currently, I think most of us experienced the 2008 crisis, and there is a possibility that there will be a repeat of the 2008 crisis. If we look at our local currency, there is inflation, there were figures which were shared a few days ago that stated that Zimbabwe’s inflation for June 2022 was at 426 percent. With this in mind we can assume that the local currency will most likely continue losing its value against the United States dollar and there is a possibility that there will be fuel price hikes which is what we have been experiencing,” he said.
He added that the high cost of living will most likely become unbearable.
“Civil servants have been giving the government an ultimatum that their grievances be addressed, they have been calling the government to address issues of their salary, that they be paid in United States Dollars, so there is that possibility that there will be some crisis at public health institutions will persist,” said Dr Ndlovu.
He added, “Not just health institutions but teachers, there is that possibility that they will continue asking for payment in US dollars, the issue of incapacitation, the issue of strike, there is that possibility given the current prevailing socio-economic environment.”
Dr Ndlovu said there is also going to be a possibility of mass immigration.