Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe recently offered a $300,000 reward to anyone who will uncover the identity of an internet mole known as “Baba Jukwa”. Three out of five people in Zimbabwe now have direct access to social media in Zimbabwe, and with Baba Jukwa’s revealing of information through Facebook to his 290,000 readers people are becoming more and more aware of what is going on in their government.
The internet is challenging the old ways of old African leaders. Many of their policies and tactics appear no longer viable in the internet age. They are trying to clamp down on access to internet sites and suppressing freedoms. But this is fruitless as our own government has found out with the Zambian Watchdog.
Africans want freedom and transparency. The match for free expression and democracy will not be stopped by Mugabe and other African leaders. Even in Zambia which has long maintained a propagandist public media through the shameful Daily Mail and Times of Zambia, people are finding new ways to interact and fight for the cause of un-mediated debate on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and many news websites.
The power of information is unstoppable. We are not many years too far away before nearly every Zambian has access to some form of new media. We are not there yet but the time is coming sooner than many people think. And we shall be here to celebrate it. That is the new face of democracy. The only answer to it is for our governments to reform and embrace democratic openness or be swept along with the unstoppable tide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chola Mukanga | Economist | Writer
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