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Sekeramayi urges caution over messages on social media after army reportedly warns there will be no demonstrations until further notice

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi today warned Zimbabweans to be careful about what they read on social media because there are some people and organisations that would like to see turmoil in the country.

He was responding to a question from Senator Lillian Timveos who wanted to know whether the Zimbabwe National Army had sent out a circular stating that it was worried about the escalating tensions between the ruling party and the opposition and would therefore not be allowing any demonstrations until further notice.

She said the circular was on whatsapp.

“Madam President and all Hon. Senators, the Zimbabwe National Army and in fact the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have got official spokespersons and when a statement has been issued by an official spokesperson, I am then able to reply to that but I cannot be expected to reply to statements made by those who are not official spokespersons of the Defence Forces,” Sekeramayi said.

“I also want to say, let us be very careful about what is written on Facebook and other social media.  There are people and organisations who would be quite happy, who would want to celebrate if there is turmoil in this country.  They spread this and that rumour to get the population agitated; to get the people in a state of uncertainty about their own security and the security of the country.  So, we must be very, very careful about taking at face value some of the statements that are being circulated.”

Q &A

HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: My question is directed to the Hon. Minister of Defence.  I have just seen a circular on WhatsApp that has been written by the Zimbabwean Army that says we are worried about the escalating tension between the Ruling Party and the Opposition and they will not be allowing any demonstrations until further notice.  Is this true?  Are we having problems in this country, do we have something going on, are we in a state of emergency or what is going on.  Is this real but the message has the Zimbabwean Army logo.

THE HON. PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE:  I want to urge Hon. Senators to stick to the rules and ask questions that are related to Ministries’ policies and not what we come across in newspapers or whatever.  Having ruled that, may be the Minister would like to respond to the question but let us observe our Standing Rules and Regulations.

THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE (HON. SEN. DR. SEKERAMAYI):  Madam President and all Hon. Senators, the Zimbabwe National Army and in fact the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have got official spokespersons and when a statement has been issued by an official spokesperson, I am then able to reply to that but I cannot be expected to reply to statements made by those who are not official spokespersons of the Defence Forces.

I also want to say, let us be very careful about what is written on Facebook and other social media.  There are people and organisations who would be quite happy, who would want to celebrate if there is turmoil in this country.  They spread this and that rumour to get the population agitated; to get the people in a state of uncertainty about their own security and the security of the country.  So, we must be very, very careful about taking at face value some of the statements that are being circulated.  As I have said, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have official spokespersons and when a statement has come from the spokesperson, then you know that it is an authentic statement.  Thank you.

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