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Zimbabwe: New Technologies in Fight for Democracy


Ndesanjo Macha is Sub-Saharan Africa Editor of Global Voices, which monitors citizen media in the developing world. Thomson Reuters is not responsible for the content of this post — the views are the author’s alone.

In countries such as Zimbabwe where media and political freedom is extremely restricted, new technologies have become powerful tools for political campaigning, communication, advocacy and mobilisation. Bloggers and civic organisations have resorted to using new tools and applications such as Flickr, Facebook, SMS text messages, YouTube and mashups to fight for democracy, media freedom and good governance.

SMS Text Messages

If you are in Zimbabwe and your phone rings, you might be receiving news headlines from SW Radio, election updates from or political jokes about Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Widespread mobile phone access in Africa has made SMS a powerful and useful tool for activists. Comrade Fatso, a Zimbabwean blogger, writes about the many political jokes circulating on SMS in his blog:

“… Another joke walking the streets of Harare is that the only difference between an election and an erection is that you can’t rig the latter.”