Written down in points, the following has changed about the ideas I had in and over my research before coming to Zimbabwe:
- I had no idea how immersed Zimbaweans where in politics. Everybody, everywhere, every conversation entails political aspects. Everybody is updated on the political situation and everybody wants to talk about it.
- Before coming to Zimbabwe I thought the conlusion of my research would be that, in short, social media had a considerable influence on political decision-making and political aspects in the country. I am now holding a more nuanced view on the role of social media in Zimbabwean politics: social media wil not be the way to change Zimbabwe’s political society. It is a mere tool Zimbabweans use to get through everyday life.
- However, social media does help create a more democratic ‘virtual space’ for Zimbabweans to discuss politics.
- The democratic aspect of that virtual space must also be nuanced. Before coming to Zimbabwe, I thought a Zimbabwean could say anything they wanted to say online. This is not the case, as demonstrated by various examples of people being arrested for something they put on Facebook or Twitter. These examples where given to me in the interviews I held, and I later cross-checked them.
- A few short observations:
- Zimbabwean everyday life is getting increasingly difficult.
- Oppositionparty MDC wil not change the political situation in Zimbabwe.
- Social media has made Zimbabweans more politically engaged, as they have more acces to information shared online.
- However, that information is often biased. This is best illustrated by examining the different newspapers in Zimbabwe: facts are not cross-checked, each newspaper reports on something in a different or biased way. The difference is especially noticable when one examines the state-owned newspapers and opposition-newspapers. Many Zimbabweans told me they did not believe anything they read in newspapers, or that they just read all of them to gain an objective idea of the news, as far as that was possible.
- Zimbabweans live and breath actuallity. They are hungry for news and are incredibly updated. News spreads very fast over WhatsApp, as every Zimbabwean is in Whatsapp-groups; sending eachother messages throughout the day.
- Zimbabweans are creative, for they must be in the political and social society. Nothing works as it should (fuel, cash, politics, transport), so everyone gets things done via contacts.
- Remarkably, I have observed a growing attitude of ‘nostalgic longing’ for the days of Robert Mugabe.
The data I collected for this thesis is qualitative. It consists of 15 interviews, newspapers, observations, notes and an analysis of online chatrooms. I will be organizing my data and making a content table, so I will know what to say and in which order I want to say it. After this, I will analyze my data more in-depth.