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SA’s Parliamentarians instructed to use Facebook and Twitter

Parliamentary House Chairperson Obed Bapela has instructed South African MPs to improve their computer literacy, including learning how to use and engage with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, reports Johannesburg radio station 702.

“We cannot have MPs that cannot access the internet. We can’t have MPs that can’t engage on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter,” scolded Bapela.

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Parliamentarians were instructed to improve their skills and understanding of technology, after it emerged that around 85 percent of MPs were not computer literate.

The radio station reported that the orders came during Tuesday’s parliamentary budget vote.

Bapela said that too many laptops were gathering dust in offices and some have not even been removed from their boxes.

Group training sessions, including beginners courses and advanced lessons, have apparently been organised for July.

Bapela said that private sessions could be arranged for those too embarrassed to admit to their computer illiteracy.

Facebook has hit the news headlines regularly for lively politicking and verbal abuse by the supporters of political parties in the country.

A leadership battle between Mosiuoa Lekota or Sam Shilowa for control of the opposition party Cope has dramatically played itself out on the party’s 18,000-strong Facebook Page, with members hotly canvassing support for candidates ahead of the upcoming national elective conference.

The debates have overheated to the extent that Cope has called on its members to stop making “public pronouncements” about the leaders they want.

Last month, spokesperson of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) Jackson Mthembu said recently that party leaders should distance themselves from the “ill-disciplined” actions of their supporters on social network platforms.

“Our view is that any public spats, including what is on social networking sites, is not acceptable,” Mthembu said

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