02 July 2008

Social Media and the Crisis in Zimbabwe

For those of you who only get news from American sources who think "foreign news" is whatever Amy Winehouse is doing right now, Zimbabwe is a country of about 12 million people in Southern Africa. It's known for its rich mineral deposits, beautiful places like Victoria Falls, its high poverty and HIV rates, and its ruthless leader, Robert Mugabe. On March 29 the country held general elections and most impartial observers concluded that the opposition party, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, won a clear majority. The "official" results, released by Mugabe, declared that no party won a majority and a run-off vote would be required on June 27.

Leading up to the run-off, the country has seen a systematic campaign of intimidation and violence, including the arrest of Tsvangirai, who ultimately pulled out of the run-off to prevent further bloodshed. Today the western world has tried to convince other countries in Africa to refuse to recognize the Mugabe government and find a diplomatic solution to transfer power in a way that reflects the will of the people. These efforts have had limited success.

Not surprisingly, the best coverage of the crisis in Zimbabwe has come from inside Zimbabwe. But it's come from bloggers. I'm particuarly impressed with Sokwanele's efforts to map incidents of violence at the blog This is Zimbabwe. You can follow Sokwanele on Twitter for breaking news, and it's amazingly good - when Twitter's working, of course.

Global Voices Online had been following and linking to some of the more noteworthy posts, but that's dropped off a bit. There's been a lot of commentary about Zimbabwe at Open Democracy, and thankfully not all of it is from the Western intellectuals' perspective.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post David - it is helpful to view the information from an insider's perspective to really understand what is happening in Zimbabwe. And I am going to follow Sokwanele on twitter in order to keep myself informed.

ng2000 said...

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