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Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Mapping Zimbabwe’s Election Breaches

Few people around Africa, or the world, are unaware of the injustices being perpetrated against Zimbabweans by their government. It has gone from being the “bread basket of Africa” to a place of staggering inflation and a broken economy. Through it all, there are a few voices online that help bring the real stories of what is happening there to the world.

One of those voices is Sokwanele (which means “enough is enough”), an excellent resource for background and news. Just recently they posted on their blog This is Zimbabwe about a project they have created to map breaches in the Zimbabwe elections using Google maps.

A map of election breaches in Zimbabwe

This map mashes up the data that Zimbabwe Election Watch has collected of government intimidation, via the media, with a Google map. Due to the hostile climate towards journalists, the urban areas get more coverage than the hard-to-reach rural areas. If anything, the creators of this map feel that the data is under-reported.

The interactive map aims to give a visual impression of the scale and many ways in which the Zimbabwean government has breached the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Elections are a process, not an event, and the same applies to rigging: the scene has been set for unfree and unfair elections on March 29th, and the conditions on the ground have been developed through many months of non-compliance with regional electoral standards.

In just a few days Zimbabweans will begin lining up at the ballot box to cast their vote. It’s hard to voice your vote for the opposition though. There are reports of “underground” SMS messaging campaigns, but everyone fears the government (or their sympathizers) backlash if they are found out.

It’s a tough situation, one that technologists have been fighting to try and help with on two fronts: to keep information flowing internally within the country, and also to make sure that the rest of the world sees the images and hears the stories of what is going on within the Zimbabwe. This SADC Breaches map is a great example of external messaging and visualization.

7 Comments

  1. Could Ushahidi.com be rolled out to include stuff like this?

  2. Definitely one of the places where the SMS platform can be used to proliferate freedom, democracy and wide dissemination of knowledge.

  3. Taylor, that’s where we’re moving to. I’d love to make it easier for groups like Sokwanele to do their jobs. I’ll keep everyone updated as we have things to announce – hopefully one will be coming soon.

  4. I wrote about them too, just click on my name and follow the link.

    Thanks white african this was a cool post,

  5. I wonder if you know the answer to this.

    I was looking at Google Visualization and the maps available for heat maps.

    Is it possible to add Zimbabwe?

    Thanks. I am interested in your work too and look forward to reading it.

  6. muthaqir jenkins

    July 9, 2008 at 7:50 am

    An invaluable source of information, which future generations will appreciate as accurate historical value.

  7. muthaqir jenkins

    January 13, 2009 at 1:39 am

    As the Lenningrad Soviet , fought against Nazi tyranny during the second
    world war, and succeeded at great cost to human life, and the destruction of all social fabric, so too Will the the Zimabawean people, have to carry their their cross on the road to salvation, this book is the
    covenat that will accurately potray the Zimbabwean peoples struggle, from an objective, and highly accurate historical viewpointpoint, and stands out as a huge epitaph to the sorrows of this ravaged but brave people.

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