Panafrican News Agency

Twitter suspends account of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Information

Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA) - The micro-bogging website, Twitter, has suspended the account of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services over alleged multiple violations of the company’s hateful conduct policy.

A quick look at the government department’s account '@minofinfozw' will show this message from Twitter: “Twitter suspends accounts that violate Twitter rules.”

According to Twitter, common reasons for suspension may include spam, account security at risk and abusive tweets or behaviour.

In the case of the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Twitter noted that the former ignored “previously received repeated warnings for similar violations,” specifically of rules “prohibiting participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals”.

Under Twitter's abusive tweets or behaviour position, under reasons why accounts get suspended, it states: "We may suspend an account if it has been reported to us as violating our Rules surrounding abuse. When an account engages in abusive behaviour, like sending threats to others or impersonating other accounts, we may suspend it temporarily or, in some cases, permanently.”

Prior to banning the Ministry's Twitter account, the government had been posting incendiary remarks against opposition parties, civic leaders and other government critics.

The suspension comes at a time when the Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, posted an inflammatory statement against the Catholic Church over the weekend, littered with tribally connotative utterances.

This was in response to the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC) issuing a blistering pastoral letter against President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government.

In the letter, ZCBC cited human rights abuses and rampant corruption as the major causes of the current social, economic and political crisis in the country leading to the ZCBC calling for urgent reform. 

But, in her response, Mutsvangwa called the ZCBC "evil" and singled out its leader, Archbishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu comparing him to Archbishop Arthanase Seromba of Rwanda who was the chief spiritual ideologist and violent practitioner of the 1994 Hutu-Tutsi Genocide of Rwanda. 

She also threatened that Ndlovu wanted “to lead the Zimbabwe Catholic congregation into the darkest dungeons of Rwanda-type genocide” a veiled threat against the archbishop who is from Zimbabwe’s second largest ethnic group, the Ndebele.

Thousands of Ndebele peoples died during ‘Gukurahundi’ a series of massacres of that ethnic group carried out by the Zimbabwe National Army from early 1983 to late 1987. 

“The tribally connotative remarks attributed to the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Monica Mutsvangwa, following the pastoral letter issued by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference (ZCBC), are not exemplary or helpful when viewed in the context of the constitutional obligations that bind senior government officials,” said media watchdog, the Media Institute of Southern Africa Zimbabwe. 

“In her strongly worded response to the pastoral letter, Minister Mutsvangwa singled out and accused Bishop Robert Christopher Ndlovu, ZCBC president, of leading the bishops on the pathway of petty tribalism, narrow regionalism and racial antagonism.”

The remarks by Mutsvangwa have since drawn rebuke from other religious groups in Zimbabwe who are supporting Ndlovu and the ZCBC while also condemning Mnangagwa and his government.

Pressure on Mnangagwa and his administration continues to grow daily as human rights abuses, rampant corruption and policy missteps are rising which are major causes of the current social, economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe.

-0- PANA TZ/MA 18Aug2020