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Nudging in the direction of e-governance, the South African ruling party is trying to further expand its crucial social media reach. The African National Congress is launching a new application on the popular mobile chat platform Mxit. Through this initiative, the ANC Western Cape community (MyANCWC) will attempt to educate and mobilize South African voters.
By using modern ways of market engagement, South Africa’s majority party is planning to strengthen its online presence. As ANC Chair Marius Fransman announced, this app will aim to give people “an exciting opportunity to engage directly with the ANC in the Western Cape.” People can also “tell the ANC what it can do for them and what they will do for it.” Issues can be raised on the platform and will then be followed up by the party.
MyANC is the official handle for the ANC’s online presence on platforms such as Twitter, Flickr , Facebook and YouTube. The ANC Western Cape Community portal on Mxit seems to be another step in the right direction in expanding the party’s influence. Mxit is arguably the most popular mobile chat service in South Africa. With over “one-million monthly active users in the Western Cape” alone, this initiative seems to fairly worthwhile. The ANC claims that the Mxit app will give supporters, and citizens in general, “an exciting opportunity to engage directly with the ANC in the Western Cape.”
The whole of South Africa is encouraged to get involved. In the statement made by the ANC Chair, the party said it would “encourage all South Africans to use the app”, but that its main focus is “on the youth, the future of our country.” Not only will this app be a complaint hotline, but also, says the party, a way for citizens to stay politically informed and learn about the ANC as well as important voting information. This includes finding out whether you are registered or how to register to vote.
So, by using modern platforms to reach millions of South Africans, can the ANC extend its levels of engagement in a more affordable and popular manner? Maybe, but as the ANC’s sentiment that “nothing can replace door-to-door work, meeting voters face to face, [but] this helps us to modernize the organizing ability” of the party leaves us feeling a little skeptical. Will this initiative effectively increase and better the engagement of the ANC or is it all social media window-dressing?