oa Global Media Journal - African Edition - Are new media technologies positively influencing democratic participation? Evidence from the 2008 elections in Zimbabwe
This research is a case study analysis of the 2008 national elections in Zimbabwe. The elections are considered crucial in the history of the country because long-time President Robert Mugabe suffered an unprecedented defeat at the hands of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first of the two rounds of voting. This study presupposes the view that as digital technologies become more accessible and affordable, more people are able to easily coordinate, organise and advance their interests. It aims to critically examine the overall role played by the Internet in propelling democratic reforms in Zimbabwe, specifically focusing on its role during the 2008 elections. The major question in the research pertains to the assumed use of new media technologies by Zimbabwean exiles to channel pro-opposition information into the country, effectively leading to President Mugabe's losing. The paper refutes, based on empirical interviews conducted with Zimbabwean expatriates and immigrants living in the UK as well as a sample of locally based Zimbabweans, the notion that new media technologies helped the opposition Movement for Democratic Change see off Mugabe in the elections.
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