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Voices From Zimbabwe and the Great Lakes

Zimbabwe:A whirlwind tour of Europe by Arthur Mutambara the leader of the “pro-senate” faction of Zimbabwe's oppposition the MDC was the center of the nation's largest “cyber controversies” over the last two weeks. In an attempt to reach out to Zimbabweans in the diaspora, Mutambara, the robotics scholar-cum-politician stumbled into the center of diasporans’ sharply divided opinions of him.

It all started after Mutambara addressed what turned out to be a poorly attended rally on his first leg through the UK in Manchester and online newspaper Zimdaily posted a citizen authored report from a Zimbabwean who had attended the rally claiming,

I have always read contrasting news in many publications on, Mutambara, Mugabe and Tsvangirai and didn’t know what to believe. As to whether Arthur is popular or not I don’t know but, certainly he didn’t draw any crowd in Manchester and i bet our boozers team (Zimbabwe Saints) of Moston Cemetery Park draws huge crowds than Mutambara and guess what, this was right on a bank holiday weekend only 35 Zimbabweans turn up when thousands live in the same area.

This in response to reports by NewZimbabwe and Zimbabwe Journalists claiming the rally had drawn an attendence of over 300 people.

What followed in the comments of the Zimdaily post was an impressive barrage of opinions from Zimbabweans on either side of the Mutambara divide which impressed Enough is Enough

This is a milestone in Zimbawe’s journey towards democracy. Zimbabweans care about the politics of their country. They have opinions, and want to have a say about what’s going on. Most importantly, Zimbabweans in the diaspora are showing that they care deeply despite their physical absence from home.The internet is the next frontier were the Zimbabwean battle will play out and there ordinary Zimbos will have their say.

When Mutambara returned to the UK for a second rally, the rally was under close scrutiny. Zimdaily liveblogged the event complete with video clips here.

Meanwhile back in Zimbabwe the controversial interception of communications bill faced increasing opposition as Reporters Without Borders released a statement condemning the proposed. The bill also came under fire at the 39th session of the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Sokwanele announced the “Dignity. Period!” campaign.

Burundi: On the ninth annivesary of the Buta massacre, RW calls for “Justice for the Victims of Buta.”

Agathon Rwasa also has a report on a minister announcing bonuses for policemen who brutalize journalists. Using memos from the State Department's archives RW offers a historical chronology of the US’ stance on Burundi.

D.R.C: In a sombering post, Ingrid reports that 1,200 people in the DRC are dying everyday as a result of conflict related reasons.

Congogirl announces that elections in the DRC will be held on June 30th. Coincidentally, Ingrid of Congowatch announces a senate ammendment by Senators Leahy and Obama for US funding of military reform and election preparations in the DRC.

Malawi: Mangaliso of Mangaliso's World opines on the naming of a Malawian road in honor of Zimbabwe's controversial president Robert Mugabe,

My reflection is that as much as we are African's our country has to refrain from joining the Zim-Brit issue in its conduct with the Comrade we might get really screwed dont forget we measure our performance according to how much the Minister of Finance begs or receives in aid.

Rwanda: An ecstatic George Conard at On Safari with El Jorgito announces the debut of the locally owned Village Phone company which he helped set up.

I spent most of last year in Rwanda managing the pilot phase of a project called Village Phone. Our ultimate goal was to form a new Rwandan company to carry the project forward, and last month we finally saw the realization of that goal. The short version of the story is that on Wednesday, April 12 – exactly one year and two days after the deployment of the first Village Phone in Rwanda – I signed the paperwork registering Village Phone Rwanda SARL.

Uganda: Undo visits a dealer friend in the slums of Kisenyi where he is horrified to find that ,

“The toilets are bad, it seems all the people that stay in these congested quarters don’t go to the latrine during the day. For to go to the latrine, you could need stilts, if in the dark you wouldn’t see what you are stepping, with daylight you don’t even want to imagine your shoes near any ground.

But his friend loves it there. Read more here.

After the Ugandan police's Inspector General complained of too many guns in private hands, Lovely Amphibian contemplates the reality of gun ownership in Uganda concluding,

We have desperate people ready to do anything. And when the security firms put out ads for vacancies, there are thousands who want in. We end up with dangerous recruits who sleep on the muzzles of their guns at midday and cry like little girls when creative robbers hit the place.

Are Ugandans dying at the hands of senseless gunslingers? Is it the Wild West all over again? No. We have very bright security chiefs (Noble, Kale and Tinyefunza). But the fact that the guns are put in the hands of the wrong personell is our own undoing.

Lovely amphibian has a wonderful Mother's day tribute here.

Jay at Jay's Idle Thoughts who is unimpressed by the recent increase in energy tariffs complains, “We are going to pay more for a commodity that we are getting less and less of.”

Enock of Openminded complains, “Donors have a hand in Uganda's problems.”

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