Tanzania, Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi ‘Tweets’ from Grave

Monday's official confirmation of Ethiopia’s Prime Minster Meles Zenawi's death, sparked reactions among social media users in Tanzania, especially after tweets started appearing from what some thought was Zenawi's official Twitter account.

In all started when Zitto Zuberi Kabwe, a Member of Parliament from Tanzania, sent this tweet:

@zittokabwe: My condolences to the people of #Ethiopia following the death of Prime Minister #MelesZenawi Hope for a democratic developmental Abbysinia

Susan Mashibe ‏replied:

@iMashibe: @zittokabwe is this really true this time? Cc @SwahiliStreet

And Swahili Street concluded:

@iMashibe announced on ETV. It's official @zittokabwe

Chambi Chachage tweeted a blog post titled ‘Meles Zenawi's Farewell to Young African Leaders‘ from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on 16 November 2006, which was retweeted by others.

And then suddenly @PMMelesZenawi intervened, apparently ‘tweeting after death’  to Tanzania's Member of Parliament Zitto Kabwe:

@PMMelesZenawi: @zittokabwe please be better than I was. Not fun up here I am preparing 2 pay for some of this http://www.ethiopianreview.net/index/?p=42267

Meles Zenawi ‏@PMMelesZenawi – tweeting after death. Source: Twitter Screen Shot

This tweet to Zitto Kabwe, who has more than 29,000 followers, caused a stir, setting off speculation- was ‏@PMMelesZenawi hacked by opponents?

@zittokabwe: @hmgeleka this account seems not to be genuine of recent @pmmeleszenawi

Zitto Zuberi Kabwe concluded, and continued:

@zittokabwe: @AnnieTANZANIA tweets by @PMMelesZenawi not genuine. Ignore them. Account hacked by his opponents

Omar Ilyas backed it:

@omarilyas: This account is fake from the begining @PMMelesZenawi – a parody type like that one of @Julius_S_Malema @zittokabwe

However, the debate on Meles Zenawi’s legacy continued ranging from both admiration for Meles ability to ‘get the job done’ to the widespread awareness that Meles was not a democrat:

@Htunga: @zittokabwe Who is Meles seriously?I see Ethiopians starving n dying in lorries..I remember the shooting in 2010 too.

@zittokabwe: @Htunga were Tanzanians not starving and dying during Nyerere? But we celebrate him because of his principles. Meles the same’

@zittokabwe: @PMMelesZenawi regardless of his mistakes, #MelesZenawi remains a role model to me. You have freedom to bring back #TheDerg or Isaias

The fake (supposedly hacked) @PMMelesZenawi Twitter account, which managed to set off the debate mentioned above, also raises the question of why many public figures and politicians in Africa haven’t had their Twitter accounts verified.

Reportedly, in many cases Twitter takes too long, or simply never respond to requests for verifying accounts.

Twitter is extremely popular in Tanzania as a tool for exchanging views and debate and also as a platform for breaking news. Twitter, however, can easily be abused as in @PMMelesZenawi case, and can also cause confusion and suspicion with regard to authenticity and reliability of sources.

Other fake, hacked or parody African Twitter profiles at present are:@Hailemdesalegne, @Julius_S_Malema, @kabwezitto, @alfredmutua and @MwaiKibaki

Meles Zenawi was President of Ethiopia from 1991 to 1995 and later became the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in 1995 following the general elections that year.


  • Meles Zenawi ‘Tweets’ from Grave…

    At some point Africa was lead by principle and character. Those were the ingredients in our cultures and norms. The dead are dead and we respect. What then is this mockery? This is not our culture anymore. What is your opinion?…

  • Just to clear your confusion on who he is> Simple guess, if meles was a democrate, why 21 years? why not 4 or 5 or 10? Why he won 99.6% of the seats in the parliament? why 144 journalists are in exile and 37 are in jail right now? why Ethiopia has only 1 TV station, 1 telephone provider, 1 internet provider and blogs like ethiomedia.com blocked in the land? why did he took the position of chief of police and military operations in May 31’2005 and June 5’2005, 193 student demonstrators against stolen election votes were gunned down, most with a live bullet in their head? why out of his 62 generals, 58 of them are from his tribe? And for your surprise, until Sep 2, 2012 (until his burial) there will be staged tears shedding going on with a North Korean style and his cadres are reporting house by house on who’s not participating in the mourn.

  • For us Ethiopians Meles Zenawi is more than a democrat. He is our hero without regard of what Ethiopian haters are mumbling on the cyber world. Meles lives in the hearts and minds of the Ethiopian poor.

  • […] Tanzania, Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi ‘Tweets’ from Grave {Global Voices Online} […]

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