Can social media become a determining factor in 2023?

by | Jan 3, 2022 | Local News, Politics | 0 comments

 

Brian Rungano Temba

As the country draws closer to the 2023 elections, the influence of politics has swept into mainstream and social media.

Everybody seems to have an opinion on who should win the upcoming 2023 harmonised elections.

Democracy allows space for those ideas and the ballot box cures people any misdirections.

The usual conversation topics on who has more money or drama involving infidelity among celebrity has lost its touch on the audience.

In these past few days, it has become more apparent that the real buzz is now on politics.

ZANU-PF provincial elections have become the most trending topic in all media platforms with characters like Cde Mary Mliswa, Cde Jabulani Sibanda and Cde Kazembe Kazembe being rooted for by a majority of supporters.

Although these were internal elections exclusive to District Officials in the ZANU-PF structures, in 2023 the game will be open to all registered voters.

Needless to say the stakes will be higher.

Online influencers such as Dj Towers and El Gringo have been pretty vocal about their confidence in ZANU-PF.

 

They have cited the many developments delivered in the Second Republic in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 as the main reason why He deserves a second term.

Passion Java another socialite has been touring all the sites where the Second Republic has been delivering on promises.

On the other side of the aisle, MDC-Alliance camp has recently acquired the assistance of Thomas Chizhanje.

Will social media activity be decisive on the ground? Time will tell.

However, history says although new technology is important, parties should not abdicate physical campaingns.

During the 2018 election campaign, Fadzai Mahere was very active on social media as she ran for Member of Parliament for Mt Pleasant Constituency as an independent candidate. It did not translate to any success on the ground.

In September, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) said it was confident that there would have registered 6.5 million virgin voters by 2023.

According to ZEC the largest chunk of these 6.5 million new voters will be Youths and Women.

Recently they confirmed that only 2 000 new voters had been registered to date.

We stand one year and three months shy of holding the 2023 harmonised elections.

This reflects the obstacles that would be faced in registration, especially in urban areas.

It also communicates shortcomings of hashtags as a tool of political mobilization.

Cities and towns are populated mostly by people who would have come to seek better lives from the rural areas.

These are the easiest to approach in market areas, bus ranks, pubs and other areas of informal business.

This was easy target for NGOs and opposition parties who were rallying up new voters for registration.

In the end, organic votes are the decisive factor.

However, it is also important that the youths be communicated to in a language they understand. The estimated attention span of people between ages 16 and 25 is eight seconds.

This makes social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram the most frequented sites by the young population.

Influencers are moving from the traditional political spheres of Facebook and Twitter where conversations are mostly toxic and the content is lengthy and requires a lot of data to consume.

We are watching the spaces to see whether it is just another reel that they audience will swipe up, or content that will inform the youths to register and vote in 2023.