By Fortunate Ahimbisibwe
Sooner or later, we shall have no one speaking against the excesses of President Museveni Government because they will fear Andrew Mwenda’s vicious cyberbullying and harassment.
Cyber Harassment or cyberbullying tactic involves the online publication of hurtful, defamatory messages to a target normally worded in a severe, persistent or pervasive manner. It’s usually persistent and disparaging.
When former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi contested for the top seat in 2016, Mwenda called him a nonstarter in a series of posts, but before then, he had praised him as the super minister who was holding Museveni’s Government together.
Dr Besigye, a former friend of Mwenda who in fact lived in his house in Mbuya. He has called him all sorts of a things-an angry Presidential candidate for life who is greedy for power.
When Bobi Wine came to the scene and started pulling the crowds with his message of hope and change, Mwenda called an empty head with no ideology or strategy for the country apart from wanting change.
This is not a coincidence, it’s a pattern. How is it possible that while a good number of people see these gentlemen as formidable people trying to unseat Museveni, Mwenda goes after them on social media?
The supporters of these people have not been spared either. They have been called hooligans, riffraff, extremists radicals, frustrated hoodlums etc. This is called cyberbullying. It’s a modern form of propaganda involving persistent messaging, making embarrassing statements about individuals in an attempt to silence them. The main purpose of cyberbullying is to influence people’s perceptions about someone or about a topic.
Cyberbullying is normally undertaken by social media influencers who have a large following on social media networks. Recent studies have shown that in all cases of cyberbullying, the perpetrator seeks to hurt/undermine the image, feelings of the victim. One of the biggest things that people of online communities tend to overlook is the fact that words do hurt and that words have an impact.
However, sometimes, the impact is double aged, it goes back to the person who said the words even when the person intended to hurt other people. The case of Bebe Cool is a good example, although Bebe Cool makes statements hoping to hurt other people, he has ended up hurting himself more than anyone else.
The significance of using social media is because Facebook has 2.07 billion active users and counting on its website around the world with about 2.6m users in Uganda making it the largest communication platform.
This statistic gives an inference about social media, particularly Facebook and its impact on political communication. This makes Facebook the best platform for political propaganda. It’s a form of political counter-protest against emerging political divergence. In Uganda today, social media has become more popular than any traditional form of communication (Newspaper, radio and TV).
Globally, the cyber cyberbullying tactic was used against former US Presidential contender Hillary Clinton and partly why she lost. She came out to say the Internet had provided a place for bullies to say “the vilest, harassing, incredibly mean-spirited things” that “they would never say it to somebody’s face.” She advised: “Don’t take it personally because it can knock you to your knees if you take it personally.”
I do not want to suggest that Mwenda has been hired to do this, but events in the country point to a pattern, whereby anyone who becomes a potential threat to President Museveni becomes a subject of Mwenda’s insistent cyberbullying.
Unchallenged falsehoods eventually can become truths. That is why we must come out and challenge MWenda’s falsehoods.
Shaka has been a victim of this cyberbullying tactic after it was claimed that he was the Tom Voltaire Okwalinga. Mwenda invested a lot of resources into what he called ‘unmasking TVO’ who on the contrary still remains masked.
When Bebe Cool had bottles thrown at him, Mwenda was in a rush to say it was Peoplepower hooligans. There is no evidence to suggest People Power was behind this.
And the question now is, Who is People Power?
That will be my next post.
Mr Fortunate Ahimbisibwe is a seasoned Kampala journalist currently on a sabbatical to the UK