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Rethinking the role of the Internet in sustaining democratic participation in Zimbabwe

Mutsvairo, Bruce


Bruce Mutsvairo



Political parties have increasingly turned to computer technology since the 1980s both for internal organisational purposes as well as for direct communication with members and voters. In today’s globalised world, the growth of digital media is bringing about fundamental changes in the way people think and act. Similarly, the development of global information and communication infrastructures has briskly transformed the ways in which knowledge and content are created, produced and distributed. This study aims to critically examine the overall role played by the Internet in railroading democratic changes in Zimbabwe. The March 2008 national elections will be used as the primary case study for this research, essentially scrutinising the extent to which Zimbabwean exiles made use of foreign-based news sites run independently by Zimbabwean journalists to channel pro-opposition information into the country, effectively leading to President Robert Mugabe’s unprecedented election loss.

A critical analysis of news articles published by the so-called dissident websites will help this research investigate the overall influence of the Internet in shaping the 2008 voting outcome in Zimbabwe. The research is based on an already-developed hypothesis, which claims that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, facing a gloomy future because of a battered economy back home and equally perturbed by President Mugabe’s decision to deny them what they considered their democratic right to vote, played a fundamental role in the election outcome by relaying anti-Mugabe, equally biased publicity to families and friends back home. This consequently and indirectly played a crucial role in determining the outcome of the elections, effectively enhancing democratic participation. In this context, the research is dedicated to proving or disproving the affirmation that Zimbabwe’s Britain-based community, whether deliberately or not, used its exposure to the Internet to discredit President Mugabe’s government by encouraging relatives back home to vote for the then-opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), consequently leading to President Mugabe’s first ever election defeat in the March 2008 elections.


Mutsvairo, B. (2012). Rethinking the role of the Internet in sustaining democratic participation in Zimbabwe. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Sep 5, 2013
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Politics
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Politics and International Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Jun 1, 2012


Thesis (1.4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2012 Mutsvairo, Bruce. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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