15 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Has No Control Over Social Media - MDC-T

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has no control over social media and should not be linked to the abusive WhatsApp chats and calls directed at Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, his spokesperson said Thursday.

Luke Tamborinyoka, the MDC-T presidential spokesperson, said it was regrettable that Misihairabwi-Mushonga had sought to link her alleged abuse on social media with his boss, whom he said had great respect for freedom of expression and association.

"For the record, President Tsvangirai has no control over social media just as he has no appetite for curtailing freedom of expression, provided that freedom is exercised in a responsible manner," said Tamborinyoka.

"Our respect for freedom of expression is the very reason why we took no issue with the Hon. Member for her views that she aired on national radio where she verbally attacked President Tsvangirai."

Misihairabwi-Mushonga claimed she was receiving death threats from suspected MDC-T supporters after she gave an interview with Star FM in which she attacked the MDC-T leader over the battering of his Deputy Thokozani Khupe at the party offices in Bulawayo last month.

"I have become the subject of death threats and social media attacks by MDC-T activists, who seem to have been angered by comments I made during an interview with a local radio station," she said in a statement widely circulated on WhatsApp.

She posted phone numbers of people she alleged had threatened her and said they had formed a WhatsApp group called 'Chirangano Save Chete Chete 2018' which she said had a striking resemblance to the Zanu PF terror group, Chipangano.

"I am disappointed in Tsvangirai. I am disappointed that he would allow these people to take his name into the gutter, while he watches. It is a shame that we are not allowed to pass comments on someone who is bidding to be the leader of our country.

"I shudder to think what would happen if he happens to have State power at his disposal. But I will not be intimidated. If I have fought Zanu PF abuse, I will not certainly allow abuse from the MDC-T," she said.

But Tamborinyoka said the MDC-T had no problems with their erstwhile legislator expressing her freedom of expression in a civilized manner.

"No one should be threatened with death for airing their views but we take great exception to anyone wanting to drag President Tsvangirai's name into the mud by linking him to any of these abusive chat groups.

"He does not and will never be able to control the social media and some of its unruly elements who may wish to commit crimes and to threaten others using his name."

He disowned the so-called 'Save Chete Chete' chat group, saying they were not official representatives of Tsvangirai.

"For that reason, we respect and support Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga's constitutional right to report these abusers to the police, which abusers she claims issued her with death threats," he said.

The MDC-T, Tamborinyoka added, remained committed to the MDC Alliance.

"Moreover, President Tsvangirai spent one and half months traversing the length and breadth of the country and Zimbabweans were unequivocal in support of an alliance of democrats to exterminate Mugabe's tyranny in the next election.

"Nothing and no one will distract us from the mandate and the mission to deliver palpable change in 2018," he said.

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