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Three Cases that Show Social Networks Are Helping Hold Mozambique's Government Accountable

Categories: Mozambique, Citizen Media, Digital Activism

PicsArt_1415720335303Some renowned journalists in Mozambique have accounts on various social networks, but they do not believe in their potential to influence decision-making, government action or social participation among others. However, the government itself has recognised their utility by creating accounts on social networks such as Twitter [1], Facebook [2], Instagram and Whatsapp. Here are three recent examples where social networks have knocked on the door of accountability and governance in Mozambique. 

1. In November 2013, a letter [3] by Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco [4] circulated on Facebook criticising the method of government used by Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique. As a result, the author of the letter was summoned to testify before the Attorney General on May 26, 2014.

2. When the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA) [5] offered a Mercedes Benz S350 to the President of the Republic, José Jaime Macuane [6], a university lecturer at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, immediately wrote a post on Facebook explaining that the act violated the Public Probity Law [7]. The issue made the headlines of various newspapers [8] and was discussed all over the country for over a week, even once the Mercedes had been returned [9] three days later.

3. To promote citizenship, transparency and active participation by citizens, Olho do Cidadão [10] (Citizen's Eye), which is led by Fernanda Lobato [11] and Tomás Queface [12], developed digital platform Txeka [13] to allow citizens to participate directly in observing elections on October 15 via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and email. This culminated in the creation of a situation room, comprising various civil society institutions and academicians, as well as a partnership with STV – an independent television channel [14] – which hosted the broadest real-time coverage of the event, using the information sent by citizens via the Txeka channels.

In spite of the fact that in Mozambique, just 4.3% of the population has access to the Internet [15], the citizen reporter's perspective is valid and useful. Debates on social networks can influence government actions to a certain extent.

The author of this post, Uric Raul Mandiquisse, is a volunteer for Txeka and Olho do Cidadão.