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Tuesday 20 May 2008

Who's supporting Mugabe?

Despite inflation now estimated at 500,000%, some people are making money in Zimbabwe.

News came out at the weekend that the Chinese arms had arrived in Harare, via Angola and via UK based charter airline Avient Airlines, based in Salisbury (Wiltshire) and currently under investigation for arms smuggling in the DRC. And allegedly through refueling support sanctioned by Thabo Mbeki.

A German company, Giesecke & Devrient (G&D), based in Munich, is flying in new banknotes every week - the German government has refused to intervene.

Barclays is the bank for the Zimbabwean leadership's stolen money. Standard Chartered Bank and the insurance firm Old Mutual have funded the regime.

Also at the weekend came this.

Zimbabwe Threatens to Prosecute Abusers of Mobile Phone Text Messages

APA-Harare (Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe’s telecommunications regular says it will monitor mobile phone messages to fight what it sees as abuse of the short-message-service (SMS), state radio reported here Sunday.

The acting chief executive of Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), Charles Sibanda told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that his organization would prosecute subscribers found abusing the SMS service.

Zimbabweans have relied on the SMS service to communicate political messages, particularly after the disputed March 29 general election which was won by the opposition.

Individuals and civic organizations have used text messages to communicate news headlines, election updates or political jokes about President Robert Mugabe.

Sibanda warned that POTRAZ could trace the source of any abusive message and bring offenders to book.

Zimbabwe already monitors Internet traffic following the passing last year of legislation allowing President Mugabe’s government to eavesdrop on telecommunications.

POTRAZ is a statutory body established in 2001 to licence and regulate players in the telecommunications industry.

This sounds more like an empty threat than anything as sophisticated as the Chinese manage. Nevertheless, some 'Western' company undoubtedly supplied and is supporting the equipment enabling them to make the threat — haven't found out who they might be, any ideas?

What's interesting is the dictatorship recognising the power of SMS in Africa - it played a very important role in the Kenyan crisis and this recognition also occurred there. What's terrifying and needs exposing is who is undermining this power from the ordinary Africans by giving the tyrants the tools to close this power down.

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