ANC MPs told to join Twitterverse
Helen Zille, Julius Malema, you’d better watch out. The ANC is fast catching up on you on Twitter.
The governing party wants all its MPs to “be present” on social media because the party’s public representatives can no longer afford to have their voices silent on public debates. And it is no longer leaving it to choice. Moloto Mothapo, ANC spokesperson in Parliament, said the ANC wanted its MPs, especially the chairpersons of parliamentary committees, to be “out there” because they were the spokespeople of their committees.
Only two committee chairpersons are active on Twitter, whereas the majority of senior MPs from the opposition actively communicate their political positions on the social network.
“They must be on social media. They must join the debate,” he said.
Mothapo said social-media communication was another form of accountability.
“Some of the greatest debates in our country are taking place on social-media platforms,” he said. “Responsive public representatives, who are accountable and rooted among the people, can’t afford not to be part of such an increasing community.”
And while a number of MPs and chairpersons had already joined other platforms, Mothapo said, the ANC could no longer leave the choice of whether to join Twitter to the personal wishes of individual leaders.
“These are the spokespeople of important structures of Parliament, the portfolio committees, and they must communicate through these platforms, they must interact with the people.
“They must answer people’s questions and concerns. They must be responsive and get involved in public debates.”
Mothapo said MPs would be on the front line informing social-media users about the work of their committees and on laws processed by them.
On its own parliamentary account, the ANC is using popular hashtags like #ThrowBackThursday to remind South Africans about the “historical highlights of the ANC in Parliament” including some of the key contributions by its public representatives.
“We also feature some of the groundbreaking legislation that shaped the evolution of our constitutional democracy,” said Mothapo.
He said that the caucus communications team had been encouraging its MPs to be on Twitter, but the majority of MPs found Facebook more user-friendly than other platforms.
“We are encouraging them to join other social-media platforms, particularly Twitter, and we are confident that by the end of this week’s training, the majority of them will have opened accounts,” said Mothapo.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has more than 800 000 followers, compared with President Jacob Zuma’s almost 400 000 and the DA’s Mmusi Maimane’s 187 000.
The chairpersons of Parliament’s portfolio committees went on a media training workshop this past week to improve their communication skills. One of the modules of the training focused on social media.
The training is part of Parliament’s strategic plan and marked the start of a skilling process, which all MPs will have to undergo.