ANC MPs told to join Twit­ter­verse

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAK­I­NANA andisiwe.mak­i­nana@city­press.co.za

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.

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