A Twitter parody account almost caused a serious diplomatic rift between Zimbabwe and Kenya after a tweet that seemed to trivialise terrorist attacks in the East African country went viral.
The fake account in the name of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party sent a tweet last week urging foreign tourists to ditch Kenya for Zimbabwe because of security concerns.
The imposter using the twitter handle @zanu_pf posted: “White people wanting to visit Africa, don’t risk your life in Kenya – come to Zimbabwe for a safe holiday.”
Some bloggers were fooled by the post, sparking a heated debate on social networks.
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) was forced to address journalists on Tuesday to clarify the government’s position on the matter.
ZTA chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the tweet was mischievous and distanced Zanu PF from the account.
“We enjoy very cordial relations with Kenya and we have no business sponsoring such a campaign which is based on mischief,” he said.
“We have gone through very difficult situations in our recent history, more than Kenya and so we can’t do that.
“Our relations are so good that even our president was invited to the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“This is cheap politicking. We sympathise with Kenya on that note and we have had very vital relations for a long period.”
Mr Kaseke added: “It is an insult to ZTA especially when are preparing to go to Magical Kenya Expo in October.
“In fact as part of our solidarity with Kenya, I am going to address a joint press conference in Nairobi next week.”
Michael Riwungu, who is in Zimbabwe’s resort town of Victoria Falls attending the ninth edition of the Routes Africa Strategic Forum, attended the briefing.
He said the tweet had taken them by surprise.
“We both have a very magnificent (tourism) product,” he said. “So naturally it came as a very big surprise to us.
“The challenge we are having is a global challenge and we are having a very resilient campaign programme.
“We have confidence on our destinations and we are still in business but unfortunately the social media can have a very bad effect.”
Zanu PF’s official twitter account @ZANU PF Official last tweeted on May 11, 2013.