Voices from Zimbabwe and the Great Lakes

Zimbabwe: This is Zimbabwe celebrated their first annivesary Sunday. Ironically, the blog's birthday is clouded by the government's omnous intentions to fast track a bill will allow them to monitor people's online expression and activities.

Are laws like these a threat to the writing of a blog like ours? Well, consider this: on Tuesday last week the press carried stories that a legislator for the Movement of Democratic Change had been arrested for ‘insulting the president’, a crime that can carry a prison sentence.

Days before scheduled start of the congress for “anti-senate” faction of MDC last weekend the Zimbabwean government arrested several members from the MDC on charges of conspiring to assasinate president Robert Mugabe. After evidence to substantiate the charges failed emerge, the chief suspect Brian James was released but gagged. The Bearded Man complains

If he's no longer under suspicion or investigation, why should he be gagged – unless there was something in the authorities style of questioning that they don't want to make public… I mean, most people in Zimbabwe know of the beatings that suspected persons receive, and those that don't know of it, suspect it. The authorities don't do themselves any favours by preventing James from talking. Ironic, that whilst in custody, the investigators want him to tlk, and once released, they gag him…

New blog Accoustic Motorbike is pleasantly surprised to find a Harare sports club alive with activity. This causes her check her own pessimism;

Seeing the sports club made me question my own rigidity. In a country with an uncertain future, collapsing economy and pervasive sense of despair, are things like sports clubs, or HIFA, essential avenues to boost morale, release tension and build a sort of hope and confidence? Or are they pretences at normalcy, perpetuating the apathy by preserving a certain order, or belief that everything is alright. Would taking away these outlets, or denying them support, hasten the change of government that Zimbabwe needs? Or are they crucial in maintaining strength for the tedious years of struggle yet to come?

Burundi: RW blogging at Agathon Rwasa complains of the Tanzanian government's facilitation of the FNL leader's grandstaging. RW also is unimpressed that major world press organizations portray Agathon Rwasa not for the war crimes criminal he is but as just another political leader. Read more here.

D.R.C: Ingrid of Congowatch reports that Thomas Lubanga a militia leader in the DRC is set face in the Hague for the killing of several UN troops. “Thomas Lubanga was arrested a year ago after nine Bangladeshi United Nations peacekeepers were killed in the volatile north-eastern Ituri region.”

007 in Africa travelled to Dekese a remote village where she endures “fresh fruit and disappointments.”

Sahara Sarah contemplates making a Congolese version of the board game monopoly.

In Monopoly I used to go for the Railroads. This would be an interesting property in the Congolese version. You could buy Lubumbashi, Kindu, Ubundu and Kisangani. But would you make any money? Let's use problems currently facing the SNCC (Congolese Rail Company – owned by the state). I'll be an NGO player who lands on your space (shall I be the boot? The little dog? How about a miniature land cruiser?).

First, you charge me for the wagons I need to rent from you ($27,000 for eight wagons). Not bad for you. Then I must compete with the military (represented by the cannon), who's also landed on your space, and wants to ship rations. The military takes priority but the general then uses the wagons to ship his own building materials to his home town. Then you keep my money and tell me that the wagons aren't available. I stay on the space for a couple of weeks and I do get four wagons, three of which get stuck along the way when the engine breaks down. Six weeks later I am still on your space, you still have my money, and my personal bank is diminishing because I'm paying a hotel rent all the while. Meanwhile, your space has also been visited by many small vendors (represented by the top hat) who start protesting since their merchandise has been in your warehouses for six months and they are going out of business. You have already spent the rent that they paid without delivering their items.

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