Thursday, March 05, 2009

A New Era?

It would perhaps be fair comment that of all the things the new regime in Zimbabwe needs to do, providing a website is a low priority. However Morgan Tsvangirai knows he is talking to a range of audiences and that change is often as much about symbolism as it is about results (often it is purely symbolic as results take time). What makes the Tsvangirai website interesting is that it is not only the traditional information heavy, top-down communication tool common across most democracies. What it attempts to do is firstly inform, so the home page is dominated by Tsvangirai's inaugural speech, but alongside that (see below) is the opportunity to say what you think the top priority of the government should be: the question with that is who is it aimed at? Who has access to the Internet (as of March 2008 only 10.9% of the population) and who is most likely to respond?

Similar questions relate to the forum that has been created. It is entitled 'Your Forum' and the language suggests it is the hope that the people of Zimbabwe will get involved. There are a good amount of posts, a small amount of replies but views for the popular ones into the 200s, so perhaps it is getting some attention. Below is a shot of just one series of threads, ok the viewers may all be foreign correspondents and the four replies may be from emigres; it is perhaps a start.

Change in Zimbabwe is going to be a slow process. Perhaps currently Tsvangirai is in the process of trying to both symbolically and actually build the new brand for the government, one that fits his tag-line of 'A New Era of Democratic and Transparent Leadership'. If the government are bold enough to listen to those posting and to post ideas themselves, if conversations develop then more may be encouraged to take part, and if the people who have access are not too scared to share their personal information and log in perhaps word will get out that there is a new style of government. A lot of maybes and perhaps in that, but symbolically it says a new era, the question is whether this can help usher that new era in.

No comments: