Learner’s Submission: Social Media Channels in Zimbabwe

“Different government departments, ministries and parastatals, government officials and local authorities or councils are utilizing different social media channels to spearhead development and deliver efficient, effective service delivery that is tailor made to answer to the local citizens’ specific needs. Facebook, twitter, Myspace, Whatsapp and other blogs have been accepted by digital citizens as triggers for citizen empowered change. Accenture Media Consultant argues that not only are people getting news from social media channels but also that social media channels is change.  Recent political and socio-economic changes are a clear illustration that social media has ignited and channeled widespread movements and social groupings which has resulted in new political democratic dispensations and socio-economic transformation. Social media channels have managed to influence how people interconnect, network, share ideas and opinions and have even gone far to organize resolute action for the benefit of the citizens.

Social media channels have gone a long way to change the lives of millions and upset how public administration issues are dealt with and has brought together both the government and its citizens to engage effectively in improving service delivery.  Local concerted action and issues are deliberated and brought into the broader sphere where even the international community can also be engaged through their comments, opinions, posts and twits in a bid to enhance quality service delivery which will impact on many lives leading to sustainable development. In this digital era, brought in as a result of technological advancements, citizens are able to discuss and network with their government officials and politicians of different arms without fear, victimization and prejudice.

 This engagement and dialogue between the citizens and government has changed the relationship between the government and its people. Thus government is now accountable to its citizens and the digital era of social media channels has made the voiceless to have a platform where their faint voices could make an impact in influencing development and service delivery. This has led to citizens influencing their leaders to bring development at their doorsteps. Here it is argued that people are empowered to share their views, interact and be mobilized to lobby for their own betterment. In the survey carried by Accenture Digital Citizen Pulse Survey, they found out that more than 51% believed that the ability to interact digitally with government has encouraged them to be engaged in government projects.  This engagement between the government and its citizens has built a strong bond based on mutual trust, respect and cooperation which has led to sustainable service delivery and excellent national governance.

Parallel e-governments has emerged as a result of blogs and social media channels which have been noted as powerful apparatuses to drive development. Thus citizens are able to emphasize prospects of the government and create a ground swelling support so powerful that the need for a response is vibrant and clear. In Zimbabwe many government officials, politicians and institutions have embraced the social media platform as an effective channel to disburse information. By creating user accounts in Facebook, twitter, Myspace and other blogs, they have come closer to their electorate and reduce the distance and bureaucratic structures which impedes communication with their electorates. Excellent public relations is created. When people are engaged with their leaders, they are able to decide on issues that affects them. Social media channels has been that private-public social sphere which cuts across all barriers and beliefs prompting millions to come together, interact and reinvent the daily work of administration and public service management.

Social media channels has been central in unravelling and bringing those social issues and many other issues that are committed behind closed doors and underhand dealings by public service administrators and senior government officials and politicians to the forefront and be scrutinized by local citizens and even the international scene. Although they are effective in information dissemination and breaking news headlines, they have left the government with a bigger problem of managing effectively this public engagement. They have been viewed as the right channels by citizens for the government to interact and conduct its business with its local populace.

Moreso, social media channels have been effective in enhancing effective and sound local democracy. Social media channels have decentralized decision making powers and brought the rendezvous and rally venues at each citizen’s cellphone handset, iPhone, iPad and computer without even attending a rally or demonstration. With the acceptance of social media channels by citizens as effective forces for social, economic and political change, gone are the days of waiting for an evening newspaper or night news to hear about government developmental issues or late night shows to partake in an developmental discussion with a local politician or administrator. Social media channels have broke new grounds in which citizens have accepted to pen a change through technology and never through the barrel of the gun like the good old days.

In conclusion, social media channels have tackled issues concerning corruption, nepotism, mismanagement of public funds and abuse of office by holders in a bid to enhance quality service delivery and improvement in public service administration.  As a result of these media channels, the government has begun to open up and adapt to this changing trend of accepting social media channels as effect tools to rally support from its citizens. Social media channels have led to change and reforms in citizen participation and national development. As a result it has been an enabler of accountability and opened up the getaways to excellent national governance.”  Vincent Siwawa – Chiredzi, Zimbabwe

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