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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Broadcasting and social media can counter rigging
    Media and Technology Trust
    July 03, 2013

    Media and Technology Trust has learnt with great concern the issue that ZANU PF has hired an Israel group to assist it tamper with the voters’ role. This strategy is aimed at playing with the voter’s role so as to ensure a ZANU PF victory. The most worrying issue is that this group is said to be working with Tobaiwa Mudede the registrar general whose history in terms of voter registration in Zimbabwe in tainted with bias and manipulation.

    Thus, MTT in its own right and under the Feya Feya campaign has deemed these anomalies as needing a lot of publicity using the electronic and social media. Unfortunately, the broadcasting space continues to be closed to other players despite the fact that, broadcast information is widely accessible due to the low transmission costs and its ability to break the barriers of illiteracy. To this end, if broadcast news was available it will have enabled the general populace access to election related information. This information range from voter registration ,inspection, the just ended nomination court ,campaign period ,actual voting day and the post election scenario. There is also need for broadcasting sovereignty in Zimbabwe has also been a missing link in Zimbabwe since time immemorial. Thus impacting negatively on broadcasting diversity and pluralism and yet issues like the election will require the electorate to receive information from as many broadcasting sources as possible with a view to make informed choices. The accreditation of observers as well regional and international media organisations are some of the issues that are supposed to be laid bare for all to see.

    Apart from this, there is also the other worrying issue that relates to the allocation of voting centres in Zimbabwe which need to be exposed by the media .It is a fact that voting centres in the urban areas were MDC is believed to be enjoying support are terribly spaced and in the rural areas were ZANU PF is believed to be enjoying some decent of support were put almost close to each other. Further to this, the voter registration was supposed to have gone for 30 days in all the voting centres across the country but unfortunately they have been reduced to 3 days per district. There is also the issue of special voting; this involves the security forces and the Diaspora voters, too. The activities of the Zimbabwe electoral commission in carrying out its responsibilities in a bid to foster transparency and accountability in the electoral process also need sharp scrutiny through the media to ensure a Feya feya election

    Social media are equally capable of doing the same .Social media make people connect to each other cheaply , easily and more often particularly through platforms such as whatsup, skype, sms, vibe, facebook, emails ,etc. Social media are also popular amongst the youths hence this will see them being opinion leaders especially in the farming, rural, peri-urban areas and even among some urban areas dwellers in cases were literacy levels will be low. Social media gives users an advantage because they are not easily traceable or gagged by draconian pieces of legislation such as AIPPA, POSA, Criminal Law (Codification) Reform Act, etc. They also provide spaces for youths to participate effectively in governance issues than they would rather do in ‘normal’ forums owing to restrictive platforms.

    By being acquainted to using social media technologies the youths shall be in a position to demand transparency in the way some institutions of government operate. For example, the youths would demand to know how the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) was used by their respective Members of Parliament (MPs), debate manifestos of aspiring candidates, monitor the entire electoral process from voter registration, mobilisation, and inspection, critically analyse the voter register electronically, monitor and report any incidences of violence that in itself may work against the preservation of peace and therefore hinder the attainment of a FEYA FEYA election.

    Further to this, communicating through social media can take place anywhere including in the rural areas as one does not need much electricity to run a phone network as a cell phone can even be charged by a solar panel, car battery and bicycle, etc. In addition fibre-optic cables are cheaper than satellite internet thus making the usage of the internet cheaper. Social media is also critical because it is interactive, participatory, and to some degree democratic and anonymous. It is also easy to use social media particularly as far as language is concerned as digital technology associated with social media platforms can enable the youths to for example, access online databases such as those on voter registration, You Tube pictures sent to each other on video with graphics nature, mobile phones to Skype – now allows participants and bystanders to share their experiences direct and unmediated-real time updates. This will thus help them to for instance, make track of the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.

    This campaign also deems it necessary to document every bit of information in the run up to and after elections with a view to keep track of the happenings in the entire electoral process.

    The print media is the other critical source of accessing information but it is generally beyond the reach of many persons due to the costs involved .On average a daily newspaper in Zimbabwe costs a dollar whilst the weekly paper costs two dollars. Naturally this makes it difficult for the ordinary persons to prioritise newspapers particularly within the context of the current economic meltdown where the ordinary persons are battling with fending for their families. Further to this, newspapers requires one to have gone to school to be able to comprehend issues raised. Furthermore, it is also a fact that newspaper circulation in the rural areas is very poor if not nil thereby denying those that may want to access news through them an opportunity to do so.

    In this vein, MTT in its own right and under the FEYA FEYA campaign says for there to free and fair elections access to information must continue to be promoted to ensure that ZANU PF does not rig its way back to state house.

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