The Centre of Innovation and Technology (CITE) in partnership with a German organisation, Interlink Academy have launched 18 information hubs in Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces, hoping to help communities fend off a torrent of falsehoods that go viral in online spaces.
Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South, will each have six hubs across their localities.
Speaking at a Media and Information Literacy in Matabeleland Conference hosted by CITE Friday in Bulawayo, CITE director Zenzele Ndebele said this programme will train and offers tips to members of the communities to spot deceptive information and to conduct fact-checking when they come across ‘suspicious’ news.
“What excites us is this programme will run for five years, with CITE having partnered Interlink. This is a global partnership that will equip us to train communities enhance their capacities in fighting fake news,” he said during the opening remarks.
Some of the trainings have already been done with members of the community, with more to come in the various hubs across Matabeleland.
Ndebele also underlined that the trainings were one of a kind, as they sought to provide communities with media literacy.
“People must be able to tell the difference between fake news and real news. These days there’s information overload, especially on WhatsApp where people forward news that is not true or that didn’t happen,” noted the director.
He added that since WhatsApp, is now the main source of news for many people in Zimbabwe, users spent half the time telling others in their various groups that what they have shared is fake.
“Naturally, sometimes you would ignore but due to the volumes of fake news that is shared, you cannot because it affects someone’s beliefs,” Ndebele said.
“This is why we are working with communities, training, enhancing their capacities on digital security, technology advancements and information literacy. The training aims to make sure people don’t fall victim to fake news, misinformation and disinformation.”
One of the programme trainers, a media academic, Clayton Moyo, added that fake news and disinformation have been around for a long time and with the internet era, it has grown more hence the need for such trainings.
The information hubs in Bulawayo will be in Cowdray Park, Emgwanini, Pumula, Luveve/ Gwabalanda, Nkulumane and Mpopoma.
In Matabeleland South, the information hubs will be located at Sitezi, Nyandeni, Ntepe, Plumtree, Insiza, Matopo.
Trainings are yet to commence in Matabeleland North but these information hubs are set for Victoria Falls, Hwange, Dete, Tsholotsho, Lupane and Nyathi.
The Media and Information Literacy in Matabeleland Conferences attracted community members, academics, journalists and civil society groups.