Last year I was asked to contribute to a study on how information communication technologies (ICTs) are used in the civil society sector in Zimbabwe. One of the questions I was asked was what Kubatana would do if the Mugabe regime disabled our email and internet communications. My response went something like . . . we’ll make sure to get back up and running. And that you can’t keep a good project down!
Last week it wasn’t the Mugabe regime that interrupted our internet communications, it was the US based company Bluehost. We’ve used Bluehost for the last few years to host our blog, we’ve promoted their services on our main web site Kubatana.net because their service has been good, and we also encouraged organisations like Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Island Hospice to use Bluehost.
Unfortunately these two organisations were also brought down by Bluehost.
Bluehost’s communications with us say that they have had to take this action because it is illegal to do business with Zimbabwe due to sanctions applied by the US Government.
Indeed it is true that the US has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, but these sanctions are specific and targeted. And Kubatana, WOZA and Island Hospice are not not the list of sanctioned organisations or individuals.
Bluehost has chosen NOT to champion freedom of expression, nor have they afforded us, a fairly long standing customer, any respect by investigating the issue more deeply.
Matt Heaton, the CEO of Bluehost, wrote to us saying that he was particularly irate that members of the Kubatana community and other supporters of freedom of speech like Ethan Zuckerman and his readership, had “spammed” the Bluehost abuse and legal department.
This is where, and when, I feel immensely proud and warmed by our supporters taking the time to lodge legitimate complaints with Bluehost. It’s not spam Matt.
In the meantime we’ve had blogs backing up but with the help of Ethan, and an introduction to Rimu Hosting, and of course, Kubatana’s resident stellar-techno-kick-arse Brenda, we’re on stream again. So will WOZA and Island Hospice be soon.
Very many thanks to everyone who has supported us in this issue. Here I share with you one of our favourite emails sent to Bluehost by a Kubatana subscriber:
I find it incomprehensible that you have taken the decision to no longer host the Kubatana blog. Are you unable to discern the difference between the tyranny and oppression of a despotic regime and a small group of people who tirelessly and in the face of adversity use the medium of the Kubatana blog to disseminate credible, relevant and important information to the outside world? It beggars belief that you find a blog, which works towards FREEDOM OF SPEECH in a country hamstrung by some of the most repressive media legislation in the world, worth sanctioning! Zimbabweans have to deal with enough! They need your assistance to disseminate information. The so called targeted sanctions should be exactly that – TARGETED! Use your common sense! Kubatana is part of the change Zimbabwe needs. Show the US’s reputation in the rest of the world is NOT justified. Take five minutes to look at this issue. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that Kubatana should NOT be sanctioned! Support democracy! Yes YOU can!