The speaker of Parliament in Zimbabwe, Jacob Mudenda, announced on Tuesday that members were henceforth banned from tweeting when the House was in session.
As noted by New Zimbabwe, the move comes after various MPs have been “observed logged on to different social media sites while failing to contribute to the debate in the house,” which the speaker considered a sign of disrespect.
“The national broadcaster ZTV last week exposed some members of the House who were busy twitting whilst others were debating. This has to stop,” Mudenda said in Parliament Tuesday. “There should be a proper position which should be brought up so that there is order in the House.”
One MP reportedly responded to Mudenda’s call by arguing that they use the platform for purposes of “research.” However, Mudenda contended that all research should be done before the session.
Politicians around the world employ Twitter as one of their primary forms of communication, often using it to promote their agenda and attack their political opponents. Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has around 380,000 Twitter followers.
Let us all celebrate our diverse and vibrant culture; a source of Zimbabwean pride and belonging. We must continue to nurture a culture of tranquility, peace, tolerance and creativity. pic.twitter.com/iOo3HAnHyP
— President of Zimbabwe (@edmnangagwa) May 18, 2019
The decision to ban Twitter was made as Mudenda grew frustrated with the lack of preparedness of MPs for the parliamentary debate, which was in its second day since its adjournment in March. According to New Zimbabwe, “Chaotic scenes took center stage on the day and no proper debate took place.”
Infuriated by the lack of preparedness of legislators, Mudenda reminded them that they were wasting taxpayers’ money, with MPs receiving an allowance in U.S. dollars for attending each session.
Similar to the United States, the Parliament of Zimbabwe consists of two chambers, the lower chamber being the National Assembly and the upper chamber being the Senate. Both chambers are currently controlled by the President Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF, a left-wing nationalist party formerly led by dictator Robert Mugabe.