Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai ventures back onto Twitter, gets mobbed

2016-02-15 21:15
Morgan Tsvangirai (AFP)

Morgan Tsvangirai (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Harare  Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, made a surprise reappearance on Twitter on Monday and was immediately mobbed by supporters and critics.

Tsvangirai, 63, hadn't tweeted since March 2014. That was several months after elections that returned longtime president Robert Mugabe to power. 

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader described the elections as "stolen" and a "farce" on Twitter in August 2013. After a handful of tweets he disappeared from the popular social media platform.

But perhaps taking advantage of the turmoil currently wracking Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, @mrtsvangirai announced on Monday, "I am here now."

Explaining his move, he tweeted, "With social media taking over... one has to evolve or die."

Twitter ripples

His sudden reappearance after nearly two years of silence caused ripples across Twitter in Zimbabwe.

"Great to hear from you dear leader. Twitter family missed you," wrote @doctor283.

Said @TichRay: "Guess who's back... Voila." Media group @263chat informed its 87 000 followers, "Seems like @mrtsvangirai is tweeting today."

Tsvangirai was prime minister under Mugabe for four years during a 2009-13 coalition government. 

He won the first round of presidential elections in 2008 but withdrew from the second round citing violence against his supporters. 

Already weakened during his time as premier, Tsvangirai's popularity appeared to have waned since the coalition ended on the back of damaging rumours about his private life and murmurs about his big spending.

Strategic planning

But rallies Tsvangirai holds still draw crowds wearing the party's signature red T-shirts and caps, judging from photos of an MDC rally this weekend in Chiredzi in south-eastern Zimbabwe. The pictures were posted by Tsvangirai ally @chaltonhwende.

On Monday, Tsvangirai was immediately pinned down on Twitter with questions on the performance of MDC lawmakers, youth empowerment and the party's strategic planning or lack of it ahead of the next elections in 2018.

He (or at least the person behind his handle) answered gamely, with just a hint of exasperation when he accused Twitter user @nyanyadzi of having a "narcissist vision".

Tsvangirai does have a fairly frequently-updated Facebook page. But his posts there have been mainly confined to statements with little evidence of the kind of robust interaction Zimbabweans have come to demand of any politician who dares dip his toes into Twitter. 

If he stays on the platform, he will no doubt find himself very soon up against the acerbic wit and many exclamation marks of former information minister @profjnmoyo, who recently celebrated his one-year anniversary on Twitter.

Mugabe, 91, does not have an account.

Read more on:    twitter  |  zimbabwe  |  social networks  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.