Twitter and political discourses: how supporters of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party use Twitter for political engagement

Bhekizulu Bethaphi Tshuma*, Lungile Augustine Tshuma, Mphathisi Ndlovu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social networks such as Twitter are transforming political engagements in contemporary societies. Dominant literature places emphasis on the counter-hegemonic opportunities offered by social media in the Zimbabwean political landscape. However, there is a need to draw scholarly attention to how supporters of the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), are appropriating and using Twitter for political engagements. Drawing upon the case of Varakashi (ZANU PF’s social media trolls and supporters), this paper examines how supporters of the ruling party in the post-Robert Mugabe era are increasingly occupying online spaces that were traditionally associated with opposition voices. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime has been grappling with legitimacy issues in the wake of the November 2017 coup that toppled Mugabe, the contested July 2018 election, and the shooting of civilians in August 2018. Focusing on four Twitter handles of Varakashi, this article employs rhetorical argumentation to analyse how these Twitter propagandists are defending and promoting the interests of the Mnangagwa regime. Findings demonstrate that the Varakashi are sanitising and justifying the November 2017 coup, campaigning for Mnangagwa in the July 2018 election, and in justifying the killing of civilians in August 2018.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-288
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Zimbabwe
  • Varakashi
  • Twitter
  • ZANU PF
  • Propaganda
  • Discourse analysis

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