The Zimbabwe Elections 2013 crowdmap, powered by Ushahidi, has so far logged 62 reports, with 20 of these alleging intimidation.
Zimbabweans go to the polls tomorrow to vote in a referendum on a new constitution, which sets the stage for full national elections later in the year. However, both President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change back the “yes” vote.
The crowdmap is encouraging Zimbabweans to report cases of abuse as well as take to Twitter to discuss the referendum and upcoming elections using the hashtags #ZimElection, #ZimElections13 and #ZimElections.
Technology is being utilised as part of the referendum process despite attempts to crack down on monitoring. Zimbabwean police took peace activist Jestina Mukoko in for questioning as she was establishing a Kenya-inspired social media network to warn voters of political violence.
The Zimbabwe Mail reported her Zimbabwe Peace Project was raided by police who took smartphones that would be used as tools for Ushahidi users to report where incidences of violence and corruption were taking place. Police said the smartphones were “spying gadgets” supplied by hostile western governments.
Effie Ncube, chairman of the National Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO) told the Zimbabwe Mail ignorance of technology reigned within the national police force.
“The police still use typewriters in Zimbabwe,” he said. “They have no idea about IT, or social media. They don’t know about Facebook or Twitter, so they probably have no idea about Ushahidi.
“There was nothing secretive about this project. It was set up quite openly.
“There is a generational problem with the ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police). They are stuck behind many developments in IT.”
HumanIPO reported last month media freedom campaigners in Zimbabwe had expressed outrage at police ban on “specially designed radios” supposedly used to communicate hate speech, saying it violated the constitutional right to freedom of expression.
Some positive users of technology are impacting upon proceedings, however. HumanIPO reported earlier this week on an app developed by biNU presenting Zimbabwe’s draft constitution, allowing Zimbabweans to access the document on their feature phones and smartphones ahead of the referendum.
The app presents the draft constitution in a simplified manner, with users able to scroll the document to view a summary of the whole constitution or select to view by chapter.
“Our technology is 10 times more efficient than regular mobile browsers,” said biNU.
This came after the Sunday Mail newspaper in Zimbabwe revealed the country’s Constitution Select Committee (Copac) required more than US$500,000 to print hard copies of the constitution to be distributed among the citizens.