The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission(ZEC) has revealed that the commission is currently engaging social networking service providers such as Twitter and Facebook to have a say in election content posted by individuals or entities that has potential to cause damage especially ahead of the 2023 polls.
“What we are pushing as a commission is that we want to engage like what other election management bodies are doing. You will never hear mischief or misinformation happening on South Africa elections, why because South Africa has an arrangement with social media platforms Twitter and Facebook.
“I can tell even if you know the USA election where one of the former Presidents Donald Trump was actually taken off because Twitter has got standards and issues to ensure that they reduce fake news especially when it is going to cause instability and incite violence,” ZEC spokesperson Jasper Mangwana told the Business Times.
“If you look at it, if someone has 500 000 followers you post wrong information which is from another country and say this is ZEC and you never go back on that platform to correct it and people actually believe that narrative, it is wrong but we need a way to say that if you are not going to take it down, someone must take it down for you so that we ensure that when we run our electoral processes social media plays a key role because it is in real time.”
Mangwana suggested that Parliament of Zimbabwe should also look into the formulation of laws that regulate persons with a certain number of followers.
Meanwhile, ZEC has dismissed claims by civil society organisations and opposition parties that it is heavily militarised as it has no serving members of the military or security service.
Mangwana said the elections management body would employ anyone no matter their background as long as they qualify once a vacancy arises.
“Elections are won or lost at the polling station, they are lost or won on the V11. I am just wondering what a military person does.
“However, we don’t have any serving military men in the commission. If you are going to be applying to work for the commission you will have to resign from whatever work you have been doing,” Mangwana said.
“Should we really discriminate against people because they once served their nation?
“When we advertise for a job do you want us to notify you that this job is not meant for those that have served in the security sector? Is that not discrimination and we talk about everyone having the same rights in this country.”
He said a number of positive developments in the electoral system have happened under the watch of people who have previously served in the security sector.
“The developments happening in the electoral systems, a lot of them have been done under the people that have worked in the military.
“I will tell you for example the Electoral Supervisory Commission, the people that pushed for the establishment of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission were from the military because they had the experience from 1980. So what is the problem there? I don’t see any problem.”
He added: “There is no problem with having ex security service men unless you are coming to us and say, the conduct of this particular officer in the commission who has not followed procedure or a serving member in the security sector who is within the commission but if they have resigned we can’t victimise people for serving their own country.”