POLITICS

'Don't Fight Party Battles On Twitter' -- Mugabe

He might not have his own Twitter account after all, how many 92-year-olds do?

17/12/2016 13:36 SAST | Updated 17/12/2016 14:14 SAST
Eenevski / Alamy
The Twitter dig was likely aimed at members of G40, Zanu-PF's so-called Young Turks who are keen to push themselves into position to succeed Mugabe when and if he dies or steps down.

He might not have his own Twitter account after all, how many 92-year-olds do?

But Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe knows some of his top officials are using Twitter -- and it's not helping his fractured party's reputation.

A tough-talking Mugabe opened a conference of his ruling Zanu-PF in the central city of Masvingo on Friday with an astonishing swipe at social media platforms Twitter and Facebook - and what he thinks is the gutter press.

"We do not run or organise matters of the party or send our grievances through Twitter and Facebook," Mugabe said.

The Twitter dig was likely aimed at members of G40, Zanu-PF's so-called Young Turks who are keen to push themselves into position to succeed Mugabe when and if he dies or steps down.

Higher Education Minister Jonathan Moyo is active, vocal and at times critical of other party officials on Twitter (he has 105K followers).

Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere tweets slightly less than Moyo, but still has 60.1K followers.

G40's rivals are the faction of the ruling party led by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa. This is a grouping of mostly older officials who are less visible on social media but who have a strong voice in the official Herald newspaper, which falls under their control.

Mugabe's jibe at the press - he said some papers "only deserve to go in the bin" - was probably not aimed at the Herald. The private press in Zimbabwe has closely followed the factional fighting within Zanu-PF this year, just as it has followed the social unrest that was sparked by c founder Evan Mawarire in April.

The longtime president allowed that there was "a measure of unhappiness" among Zimbabweans. But he also spoke out firmly against regime change, which is what he believes #ThisFlag was trying to achieve (with the West's backing).

"There has not been regime change and there shall not be regime change. They stand defeated on that one," he said.

Mugabe has previously spoken out against the "filth" on social media. But he may face resistance from his nearest and dearest: earlier this year his son Robert was an avid user of Instagram.

Both Mugabe's sons were at Friday's conference opening. The Chronicle snapped a pic of the pair of them. Chatunga was scrolling through his smartphone.