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Mobile Phones Foil Zimbabwe Censors March 4, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Uncategorized.
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Almost since he gained power amid great expectations for the future of Zimbabwe, people have been predicting the demise of Mugabe’s governments. Almost three decades ago, pundits predicted that Mugabe’s Marxist Zimbabwe would be quickly subverted by apartheid era South Africa’s military and financial might. I

n more recent times, Zimbabwe has evolved into a kleptocracy, one with the lowest life expectancy in the world and a looming food shortage, a state of affairs insufficiently dire to distract him from celebrating his 83rd birthday with a million dollar bash, banning public assembly, violently suppressing civil service strikers, and then seeking approval for another two years of power so that the country could save money by having both parliamentary and presidential elections in the same year.

Mugabe’s peculiar ability to stay afloat depends on his ability to control the flow of information among members of the political opposition and the public. Tight control of the press, stringent laws governing radio and television,and a paucity of electricity and web access have made it possible for Mugabe to disrupt social networks, whether of the urban unemployed or of angry and starving farmers.

A hybrid radio-cell phone approach, as Al-Jazeera reports, may turn out to be the single most innovative political technology to have ever existed in Zimbabwe.

A radio station has found a way to beat censors in Zimbabwee by using mobile phone text messages to distribute news to citizens there.

 

SW Radio Africa is broadcast via shortwave radio signals and the internet, but has found that Zimbabweans have an appetite for news on their mobile.

Source: english.aljazeera.net

This combined modality may offer significant advantages to the various political organizaions of Zimbabwe as they attempt to salvage what remains of the state famous as the “breadbasket of Africa”.

SWRadio Africa, the company that intends to provide text messages and came up with the combined approach,believes it has a cost effective system to help Zimbabweans struggle for not only a better quality of life, but for any political life at all.

No technological solution can solve all of Zimbabwe’s problems, or even most of them. But a better way of life for millions of people in Zimbabwe and the region will never emerge from the silent, censored place that Zimbabwe now is. Zimbabwe’s people want change, and they want to talk about it. This hybrid technology is provides a means of resistance and a tool for a grand and vital national conversation.

Tags: using | TEXT | signals | SHORTWAVE | Phone | news | mobile | MESSAGES | internet | distribute | Citizens | CENSORS | broadcast | appetite | Zimbabwee | ZIMBABWEAN | Zimbabwe | Technology | Media | London | Jackson | Africa

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