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South Africa: Moving SA Forward with Informed Citizens
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Monday, October 27, 2014
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Oct 27, 2014

“And Mxit has given us one such platform. It’s not only for us to go and tell good stories but as responsible citizens, we are able to pick up on anything that seeks to undermine the good work that our government is doing and expose that using the social network platform.”
Mxit is a South African mobile social network with about 4.9 million monthly active users.
Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams also used the platform to urge communicators in all spheres of government to explore the available social networks to share their programme of action with citizens.
“We are inviting you as the Department of Communications to join the communication revolution. We are saying, ‘let’s occupy all the platforms that are out there’.
“As communicators, one of our weakness is that we like talking. This is the digital era; it’s okay that we talk but at times, our fingers must do the talking to get the message across that we want to send to our intended target.
“As government communicators, we cannot rely on media statements. We cannot rely on those clips from the public broadcaster and other commercial television stations. We need to start doing this radically and explore all the available avenues and even come up with new ones,” she said.
Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said the newly established Ministry of Communications has a mandate of ensuring that all the foot soldiers in the communication space are giving information to everyone across the country.
She said sharing information with everyone means that government needs to occupy all platforms that are out there, including the relevant age groups.
“As a department, we have been on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and all other social network platforms. But we think we have been missing out a crucial sector in the country -- the young people.
“It is important to engage with young people because we believe that everything that we are doing revolves around them. If they don’t have direct access to the services we are rendering, it’s their parents, sisters, brothers, cousins and everybody else. Therefore, it is very important that we share information with them at whatever level.
“We need to make it a point that at all times, our society is safe and the reason we believe in building an information society through the digital economy is because we want to be where the world is.
“We don’t want to be communicators who only communicate through the radio. If there is no signal or access to the public broadcaster, then there won’t be communication...
“You might be in London, Ukraine or you might be in my little village, Sakhela. Our responsibility as communicators is to give information and to able to engage with citizens, and now Mxit has given us that space,” she said.
Department of Communications Deputy CEO, Harold Maloka, said: “We are quite excited about the fact that we managed to enter the Mxit space, which is one of the social media platforms. We began with Mxit during the Presidential Inauguration, where the numbers and responses we got were quite amazing.
“We also followed it up with the ‘Tell your Story’ campaign, where the numbers also kept on growing.”
Maloka said Mxit is adding to the range of the department’s products aimed at ensuring that government is on every platform. He said communicators are able to reach every citizen at every level.
Department of Transport Chief Director responsible for Communications, Tiyani Rikhotso, said they have over 100 active Mxit users. He said they have a team of professionals who are giving real time answers to issues raised.
Earlier this year, the department launched the SA Government application, which was downloaded by over 130 000 subscribers in the first week.
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