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- Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa
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- Volume 29, Issue sed-1, 2010
Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa - Special Edition 1, September 2010
Volumes & issues
Special Edition 1, September 2010
Author Dumisani MoyoSource: Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa 29, pp II –VI (2010)More Less
This special issue of Communicare focuses on mediating the Zimbabwe crisis. Since the beginning of 2000, what has come to be generally referred to as the 'Zimbabwe crisis', has given Zimbabwe immense global media attention as one of the 'flashpoints' of turmoil on the African continent, alongside countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia and Eritrea. While academics of different hues have spared no time in trying to map out the nature, causes and ramifications of the crisis, little has been done to analyse the cultural and symbolic representations of this crisis in its multiple forms, both in the domestic and global media. This special issue comprises a selection of papers presented at a multi-disciplinary conference, Exploring Hidden Dimensions of the Zimbabwe Crises, held at the University of the Witwatersrand in July 2009. This conference had a special panel on mediating the crisis, where some very exciting papers focused specifically on the various ways in which ordinary Zimbabweans, taking advantage of what Ithiel de Sola Pool (1984) termed 'technologies of freedom', devised innovative ways of producing and disseminating counter-hegemonic narratives in what had become a severely restricted communicative environment.
Beyond dramatic revolutions and grand rebellions : everyday forms of resistance in the Zimbabwe crisisAuthor W. WillemsSource: Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa 29, pp 1 –17 (2010)More Less
In the context of the Zimbabwe crisis of the early 2000s, both popular and academic accounts frequently discussed Zimbabweans as passive victims of their government, hereby suggesting that the extensive efforts of the state to create a 'patriotic' citizenry through the cultural project of the Third Chimurenga were largely successful. This article argues that the absence of physical protests in the streets should not be equated with an absence of resistance. By adopting a narrow focus on the forms of resistance associated with dramatic revolutions and grand rebellions, journalists and scholars neglected the everyday forms of resistance - such as popular humour and rumour - by means of which Zimbabweans sought to challenge the state. These nascent forms of resistance could have been drawn upon in a more sustained way by the political opposition and civil society in order to provoke political change.
Committing journalism? A view of the Zimbabwean 2008 General Elections as interpreted by Internet news cartoonsAuthor H. ArntsenSource: Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa 29, pp 18 –41 (2010)More Less
This paper explores some issues of the contested Zimbabwean 2008 Presidential Election as it was represented in one-frame political cartoons published in a selection of Internet news sites in the Zimbabwean diaspora. It argues that the cartoons may constitute the contours of alternative communicative spaces, in which the cartoonists present arguments about the ongoing Zimbabwean crisis. The cartoons may be able to present, in a visual form, issues and processes that are not so easily covered in verbal journalism. The cartoons thus constitute elements of journalistic practice in their own right.
Blogging down a dictatorship : human rights, citizen journalists and the right to communicate in ZimbabweAuthor L. MoyoSource: Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa 29, pp 42 –56 (2010)More Less
This article examines the use of blogs to mediate the experiences of citizens during a violent election in Zimbabwe. It focuses specifically on how people disseminated and shared information about their tribulations under a regime that used coercive measures in the face of its crumbling hegemonic edifice. The article frames these practices within theories of alternative media and citizen journalism and argues that digitisation has occasioned new counter-hegemonic spaces and new forms of journalism that are deinstitutionalised and deprofessionalised, and whose radicalism is reflected in both form and content. I argue that this radicalism in part articulates a postmodern philosophy and style as seen in its rejection of the elaborate codes and conventions of mainstream journalism. The Internet is seen as certainly enhancing the people's right to communicate, but only to a limited extent because of access disparities, on the one hand, and its appropriation by liberal social movements whose configuration is elitist, on the other. I conclude by arguing that the alternative media in Zimbabwe, as reflected by Kubatana's bloggers, lack the capacity to envision alternative social and political orders outside the neo-liberal framework. This, I contend, is partly because of the political economy of both blogging as a social practice and alternative media as subaltern spaces. Just as the bloggers are embedded to Kubatana's virtual space to self-publish, Kubatana is likewise embedded to a neo-liberal discourse that is traceable to its funding and financing systems.
Author W. ManoSource: Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa 29, pp 57 –70 (2010)More Less
New forms of online citizen journalism have refreshed political communication in Africa. New information technologies are providing readers with previously unavailable opportunities to comment and produce their own news and information that is able to influence political processes. However, all is not rosy about Africa's new citizen journalism. While it has produced reliable and quality information that African democracies require, it has also produced vigilante journalism - a vindictive and revengeful form of gathering and disseminating news and information. Vigilante journalism is similar to the necklacing that was common in South African in the 1980s. The article discusses how, at the height of the Zimbabwe crisis (2007-2008), the news website, ZimDaily, led a vigilante campaign to publicly name and have perceived relatives and children of Zimbabwean ruling party officials deported from 'Western' countries. The idea was to help resolve the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe. The editors refused to question the ethics and morality of the exercise. Thus, encouraged by the website's editors, Zimbabwean users of the website took the law in their own hands and published addresses, telephone numbers and other personal information about anyone thought to be related to those in government in Zimbabwe. This blurred the boundaries between citizen and vigilante journalism. The resultant vigilante journalism by groups seeking instant justice was in a way similar to the necklacing, even though this was in a virtual sense. It is clear that the emerging new media spaces in Africa function like double-edged swords able to either build or destroy democracy.
Author D. MoyoSource: Communicare : Journal for Communication Sciences in Southern Africa 29, pp 71 –85 (2010)More Less
While Zimbabwe's first two post-independence elections in 1980 and 1985 were generally considered to be a credible expression of the will of the people, subsequent elections in that country were largely contested, with allegations of rigging, gerrymandering, vote-buying and coercion, among several other irregularities. With a media landscape that is largely dominated by state ownership and control, the total reporting on elections in Zimbabwe has always been openly biased in favour of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, resulting in a huge loss of credibility for both the electoral system and the state-owned media themselves. However, the advent of new communications technologies, such as the Internet and mobile phones, has ushered in a new era of political communication where citizens actively participate both in the election campaign and the monitoring processes. This paper looks at the contribution of the innovations in political communication that have come with these new media, focusing particularly on the uses of mobile phones (in particular the SMS or short message service) during Zimbabwe's contested 2008 election. More specifically, it explores the ways in which ordinary Zimbabweans appropriated the SMS as a tool for monitoring that election. Further, it discusses the implications of these new technologies for the conduct of elections in Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the African continent, and for democracy in general. What is clear is that these new forms of communication are fast eroding the monopoly of incumbent politicians over the communications landscape, undercutting the liberation discourse that has had a stranglehold on election processes, and signalling the possibility of more open political spaces where divergent views can coexist.