SoFarSoGood hashtag was supposed to be a feelgood hashtag for Zimbabweans to adopt ahead of the 35th anniversary of independence next week.
But many Zimbabweans gleefully savaged the hashtag on Twitter on Friday, insisting that life under President Robert Mugabe had not been good at all in the three and a half decades since he took over at independence.
Users posted pictures of the empty supermarket shelves and wads of worthless Zimbabwe dollar notes that were seen in 2007-8, at the peak of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis.
There were also photos of hungry Zimbabwean children picking up grain from the side of the road, and of burning homes at a game park in Manzou, which was ordered cleared of villagers by first lady Grace Mugabe earlier this year.
Fed up with years of food shortages, rising prices, unemployment, state-sponsored violence and poor service delivery, some Zimbabweans on Twitter turned their wrath on Information Minister Jonathan Moyo who began using the #1980SoFarSoGood hashtag a day earlier.
User @kudzii91 wrote: “I couldn’t find a job after i finished my degree, as is the same with my varsity mates.. #SoFarSoGood”.
“No clean water. #SoFarSoGood,” user @senor_foster said.
@NickkTitan tweeted: #SoFarSoGood …+80% unemployment….we don’t even have a currency to call our own anymore…so far so good? Don’t insult our intelligence.”
Another user @RasMankindDiv tweeted: “#SoFarSoGood – I cant handle that. An insult to the people of Zimbabwe who have weathered severe testing economic hurricanes & turmoil.”
Mugabe, 91, has been in power since independence in 1980.
While many Zimbabweans value the role he played in the war against white minority rule and his emphasis on education and black empowerment, there is also underlying anger over corruption and the way in which his government has crushed dissent, particularly since the formation of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in 1999.
Popular blogger @CynicHarare used the slightly altered hashtag #SoFarFromGood, posting pictures of the president and his wife tucking into cake and ice-cream at his birthday party, under the caption:”#1980SoFarFromGood.. for some of us.”
Minister Moyo, who to his credit is one of the few Zanu PF officials on Twitter, gamely tried to defend the hashtag, saying it didn’t have to mean “all is dandy”.
“#1980SoFarSoGood Zimbabwe is standing as a nation. Our country has come under an unprecedented onslaught but survived!” Moyo wrote to user @TaffyMaz.
@TaffyMaz, though, was having none of it, retorting: “We will never agree Prof, but [what] your party has done in 35 years to my country kills me every day. It really kills me!!”
Journalist Nqaba Matshazi tweeted: “#1980SoFarSoGood Is the kind of propaganda we don’t need! #1980SoFarFromGood”
Blogger @joeblackzw said: “#1980SoFarSoGood is a kick in the face of all #Twimbos.” Zimbabweans on Twitter are known locally as “Twimbos”.
Independence Day is celebrated in Zimbabwe on April 18.