NEWS that the Zimbabwe military is planning to snoop on social media activities is not only chilling, but an anathema to the country's progress towards attaining upper middle income status by the year 2030 because only a vibrant, spirited and fleeting exchange of ideas using the latest information and communications technology (ICT) will help the southern African nation achieve its goals.
And when the military brazenly and publicly announces that it shall be snooping on citizens' conversations on social media, it will only result in everyone being scared of sharing anything because it is not clear what exactly the army people will be looking for. The intended move will, thus, profoundly limit free thought and expression, which is granted by the country's supreme law.
Granted that ICT, which has greatly revolutionised communication globally, has become an avenue through which all manner of malcontents and retrogressive forces spread their perverted ideals to infect others, it is, however, not in Zimbabwe's best interests for its military to start prying into the private affairs of its citizens.
Granted, every nation should always be vigilant and guard against possible foreign invaders, but in Zimbabwe's context the military's intentions to monitor the social media space sound suspicious given the country's dire socio-economic and political state of affairs. Zimbabwe is, unfortunately, currently being run by a regime that is doing its business in a manner that perpetually defies logic. Under such circumstances, the army — which has exceptionally done well in international peace missions, can easily be labelled partisan. This will not augur well for the uniformed forces which, in a constitutional democracy, should be seen to be non-partisan.
What is currently circulating on social media platforms are public secrets and citizens are largely debating, commenting and expressing their disgust as well as anger at the state of affairs in the country. So it is our sincerest hope that the military's proposed monitoring of the social media space is not meant to silence citizens and target individuals who choose to freely express themselves on how they and their country are being governed.
It is also hoped that the announcement was not meant to scare citizens into being passive and meek because logically it is not the army's duty to monitor citizens. While the army has its own intelligence service, citizens hardly ever know what it does and when the military comes out in the open on such issues it is bone-chilling and vindicates assertions that the southern African nation is now hurtling towards being a military State.