This morning I got a press release from Sokwanele (“enough is enough”), the Zimbabwe Civic Action Support Group that is campaigning for freedom and democracy in Zimbabwe. The release outlines how Google Maps is being used on their site to show where electoral code breaches (from gerrymandering and vote buying to abduction and murder) is happening.
Click here to check out the map. Below is the press release:
Sokwanele has mapped a sample of breaches logged under our Zimbabwe Election Watch (ZEW) project using Google’s map function.
The interactive map aims to give a visual impression of the scale and many ways in which the Zimbabwean government has breached the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections. Elections are a process, not an event, and the same applies to rigging: the scene has been set for unfree and unfair elections on March 29th, and the conditions on the ground have been developed through many months of non-compliance with regional electoral standards.
The events and incidents mapped on the Zimbabwe Election Watch map represent a small sample of the breaches identified under the project since we started monitoring the government’s non-cooperation with regional standards in July 2007. All the information logged under Zimbabwe Election Watch is derived from media sources.
Zimbabwe has a highly restrictive media environment, and fuel shortages make remote rural areas inaccessible to those brave journalists who do manage to circumvent the repressive media legislation and attempt to report regardless. This naturally means that urban areas have a greater representation on the map. It also means that empty areas on the map may not indicate ‘uneventful’ areas; on the contrary, they are more likely to represent stories we are unable to tell and incidents that have not been reported.
The map is interactive: check and un-check icons to refine focus; click on icons on the map to read more; double-click anywhere on the map to zoom in on an area in Zimbabwe, and use your mouse to click, hold and drag on the map to pan to different locations.
Despite the fact the map is based on a small sample of information we have logged since July 2007, and despite the fact that our ability to gather a full picture has been curtailed by a restrictive media environment, the ZEW map clearly shows that conditions in the country are not conducive for free and fair democratic elections.
For more detail on the full range of breaches we have logged through the duration of the project, and more information on the SADC Principles and Guidelines, please visit the Zimbabwe Election Watch section of our website and explore the data through the database interface.