Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe took center stage a couple of times at WSIS in Tunis last week. First up was Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president calling for an end to the use of the internet against the freedom of lesser developed countries by developed nations.
“These last two years have shown us how information and ICTs are often deployed as preludes and accompaniments to aggressing the sovereignties of poor and small nations. I say this because my country Zimbabwe continues to be a victim of such aggression, with both the United Kingdom and United States using their ICT superiority to challenge our sovereignty through hostile and malicious broadcasts calculated to foment instability and destroy the state through divisions.”
Mugabe is accused of single-handedly curbing many freedoms in Zimbabwe, including that of expression. Hope at This is Zimbabwe wonders, ‘“Undermine a country’s values”…? “Cyber-terrorism”…?’
At the on again-off again ‘Expression Under Repression’ seminar, Taurai Maduna the information officer at Kubatana.net shared his perspective on the role of the internet in a repressed country noting that Mugabe's government doesn't view the internet as a serious threat,
“Taurai tells us that Kubatana operates openly, with the knowledge of the Zimbabwean government and has avoided harrasment, largely because the government doesn’t see the Internet as a way to reach the Zimbabwean mainstream, just the elites.”
Meanwhile Hope at This is Zimbabwe is seeing flying pigs over reports that Mugabe has announced the discovery in Uranium in Zimbabwe.
He is also reporting the arrest of the FNL's chief of staff,
“The first ever arrest of a senior FNL leader is a major step towards justice.
FNL Bujumbura Chief of Staff Aloys Nzabampema has command responsibility for the troops that carried out the August 13th 2004 Gatumba massacre, which was a “crime against humanity” under international law.
As a senior FNL figure, Nzabampema is also implicated in the group's widespread and systematic campaign of civilian massacres, including the December 28th 2000 “Titanic Express” ambush. The Burundian authorities must look at the evidence for his involvement in this campaign, which also constitutes a “crime against humanity”.
The length and breadth of this country, at every airport we go to, every form we fill out is duplicated the old fashioned way, with carbon paper. You go to fill out a flight plan and are handed very carefully arranged forms, 3 deep with carbon paper in between each one. One of the airports I go to, the guy does it for me on an old Underwood manual typewriter. He bangs away on that thing and I feel like a character in a World War II movie. The ribbon is wearing out and the letters are half red and half black. The carbon paper works good though.
This is a bit old fashioned but it suits the place because the carbon paper never seems to wear out. That is an important consideration when the last supply shipment from central office was 2 years ago and the next one will be whenever.
007 In Africa decries the exorbitant cost of small amounts of yogurt.
Finally, Adventures of a Retired Armchair Travelernotes that Rwandan mayor Paul Bisengimana, the former mayor of Gikoro has pled guilty to genocide.
Malawi: Mike of Hacktivate endorses the $100 laptop in his comments on WSIS.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, there is a paradigm-shift occurring in HIV and AIDS programming. The entire development community has finally come around to thinking that the Malawian response must move to the district level. One trip to a few areas outside of Lilongwe can tell any outsider why this is so terribly important.
If you visit the offices of the District Commissioners (who are like Premiers for a province, but with a lot less power and money at their disposal), they’ll tell you about the total shortage of supplies, training, resources, knowledge, and even autonomy to make necessary choices on a district-specific HIV and AIDS response. If you visit the offices of the District AIDS Coordinators (DACs), you would also see that some don’t have computers on which to type reports they are expected to submit, none have access to the internet, and others don’t even have binders to file their papers.
He also takes time to highlight the agreement between Nokia and Grameen Foundation> The agreement seeks to provide cheaper access to communication technology in underdeveloped countries.
Turns out that the government thought it wise to arrest and jail one of the leading opposition presidential candidates, and this followed on earlier riots at Makerere University (one student killed by police) and the ongoing tension related to their constitutional amendment allowing President Museveni to remain in power basically forever (it removes term limits, at least as I understand it).