January 2020 came and it’s now gone, but there are some things that happened in it that really stands out especially in the world of communication.
In this regard, these two letters stood out, a press release from the Zimbabwe Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and another one, a letter from the Zimbabwe Republic Police addressed to the MDC.
The Zimbabwe Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services posted a solidarity message written by Minister Mutsvangwa to the government of China concerning the fight against the deadly Corona virus.
In the case of the Ministry of Information, whether peoplewere responding to the mere wording of the press release or to the context of solidarity as expressed in the document, social media went abuzz in the same way it did with a letter fromZRP advising the MDC to join President Mnangagwa’s clean up campaigns rather than doing their own.
Below are some of the comments especially from Zimbabwe’s ‘tweeting’ community.
Responding to the press release, Pastor Evan Mawarire(@PastorEvanLive), a pastor and social justice advocatehighlighted the words “We stand ready to assist China in this fight”.
He wrote “We stand ready to assist China in this fight…” yet we cannot stand ready to provide latex gloves to our medical workers. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this madness/weirdness/idiocy.
Walter Mzembi (@waltermzembi), former Minister of Tourism in Zimbabwe scoffed at the press release saying “This kind of fawning sycophancy is a new low in statecraft and diplomacy and what kind of interstate communication is this? Where and why is the Minister of Foreign Affairs allowing this missive?”
Alex T Magaisa (Wamagaisa), former advisor to Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said “This is quite embarrassing. OTT. The kind of stuff you read in the fictional novels. But it’s from our government. Future generations will read this stuff in history books and weep.”
Teldah Mawarire (@teldah), Internews Project Director (SA) and former news editor for the Mail & Guardian Africa says “#Zimbabwe says in a statement it “stands ready to assist China” in the fight against #coronavirus. To assist China that built a hospital in two days? To assist China that we are constantly begging for loans. Hit me on the head somebody.”
Fadzai Mahere (@advocatemahere), a Constitutional lawyer and law lecturer said “Solidarity is not a strategy. 1. What is the Govt doing to ensure Zim is prepared to deal with incidents of the virus? 2. Are quarantine facilities available? 3. What medication is in place? 4. Have our public health personnel been trained? 5. Has the public been educated?”
Professor Mlambo (@MlamboProf) said “Zimbabwe stands ready to assist China to fight #coronavirus”. I am not sure what Mai Mutsvangwa, @InfoMinZw, @energymutodi, @nickmangwana and entire #Zimbabwe Gvt are smoking. Helping China yet your own clinics and hospitals don’t have gloves and paracetamol.
On the contrary, Black Angel (@BLACKAN101) responded to Professor Mlambo saying “I find it laughable how Zimbabweans stumbled over each other to be in solidarity with Kobe Bryant and Australia bush fires but China which has been an ally from before independence when the govtoffers Solidarity some find it offensive why? Is the mental slavery that ingrained?”
In the same vein, on Facebook, Tawanda David Gotami, a Security, Insurgency and Cyber Warfare specialist expressed a different opinion regarding the denigration of press release saying:
“So this moral affirmation of the Chinese abilities by its ally, Zimbabwe and support being received from other nations with capacity to do the scientific research into the epidemiology behind the virus are in no way different. Let’s remember how the international community rallied to support the US after the pronouncement of the Bush Doctrine by the then US president, George Bush. Some countries, despite not having the military might to invade targeted states, offered moral support via making the ‘right diplomatic pronouncements’ and those countries have been labelled as strategic partners of the US even to this day, benefitting a lot from that strategic relationship. So criticism of this move by the govt must be made first having weighed the cost-benefit analysis, options available and any other remedial measures that can better it”.
About the clean-up campaign, MDC Harare Province @MDCHarare posted images of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on Twitter saying:
“Police have blocked the MDC Clean Up Campaign which was set for Unit L Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza today. Armed police were deployed to stop the event. We know the paranoid regime is hell bent on closing all democratic space and suffocating the MDC but we will not be deterred.”
David Coltart, the party’s Treasurer General commented by calling the development a “Pathetic action from a paranoid regime which is scared of its own shadow”.
Piers Pigou (@PiersPigou), Southern Africa Consultant, International Crisis Group, responded to the same tweet saying “Oh dear, oh dear! Zimbabwe’s police prohibited this action by MDC-A, advising them to join the president’s clean up campaign on every last Friday of the month. This is the level of pettiness policing has been reduced to, when you aren’t allowed to clean up your own backyard.”
Whichever angle you may look at these letters from, communication of some sort has been done and the impact thereof will surely go beyond January 2020.
Those who find nothing wrong with these letters may copy and adopt the style or approach while those who believe that this is poor communication will definitely use a different approach but in all this, as zimnews24, we will always keep you updated on what happens in your world.
Happy February, all the best in your good endeavours