Referendum: Tech and Social Media for Transparency and Accountability

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Kenyan is proving to be the nerve center for technology in Africa.  That was clearly demonstrated during the referendum, starting from the media houses, to the Ushahidi group, to the general use of Social media. For the Media it was like a race to who had the best coverage, tallying centres and analysis of the results. So which media house was the best?… In terms of TV coverage, votes tallying i would give that to Citizen. In terms 0f the use of online coverage, Nation Media Group on their website nation.co.ke did a great job. In terms of social media use and updates KTN was far ahead..yeah @Larrymadowo being among them.

Ushahidi  was in the forefront in the effort to provide transparency and accountability to the process. Ushahidi, the platform developed in Kenya to monitor violence and aggregate reports of incidents in the aftermath of the 2007 election. Events reported included acts of violence, looting, hate speech incidents  and happy ones shown below:

teganbukowski “Woman goes into labour at Kabete polling station. Voters have pre-named the baby ‘Red Wafula Green” #kenyadecides

RichardNderitu Paul the Octopus predicted Yes would win and the results concur! #KenyaDecides #uchaguzi #Kenya

The use of social media capped it all. The hashtag #Kenyadecides was trending on twitter as people discuss, debate, make jokes and share voting experiences. The same was going on Facebook, with people constantly updating their status and commenting on what others are saying.  With time it would be very hard to rig an election in Kenya purely because of citizen journalism.  Rewind a bit and you would remember Mr.Ruto blaming Facebook, when he was accused of Hate Speech.

International Media

Africa in General only hit the western media headlines when there are violence, diseases, horror stories to tell. Kenyans knowing that the Referendum was peaceful were in the look out to see what the foreign media were writing or reporting.  True to the point they were allegedly bored because there were no violence. No juicy stories to report or write about. Those who managed to write about it centered their talking point on non existed  tension in Rift Valley.  Instead of covering the Referendum, they kept on referring to after math of 2007 Post election Violence. Most people in Kenya don’t want to be reminded of that, more so when they are trying hard to forgive and forget.

What next from Here

Peaceful Referendum it was and now Kenyans look forward to a better future. As much as people should celebrate passing of the new Constitution , it is just the beginning of a long journey. The implementation of the clauses on the new constitution will be the key to everything. For  that the Kenyan public should be alert, there might be some still  ready to derail the process

It is happy time. But let face it, as much as every politician who supported the draft seemed to be happy and in the celebratory mood, we all know that there are so called watermelons. The Yes..No..Yes..No My be type. The likes who were reported to be supporting the draft during the day but opposing it at night. The likes who went to the extent of introducing some clauses like National Security to the Bills of right at the AG’s office. The truth is, constitution making took Kenyans painful  20 years and it would be sad to fall a sleep at this time and leave someone to wreck the boat.

There are those with genuine concerns about the new Constitution.   Think about it over 2  million Kenyans (around 31 percent) voted No to the new constitution.  It is not right to just dismiss their concerns.  From what i have seen and heard most analysts tend to think that most of them voted out of ignorant or lies peddled by the likes of High Education Minister Mr. William Ruto. I would say taking such view is degrading the intelligence of Kenyan voters, and the truth is they are better than that.  Let pose for a moment Nairobi for example had 22% of the voters saying No to the new constitution. As we know it Nairobi has the elite voters and nobody can influence them through lies. With that in mind it is possible that those from Rift Valley province were seriously concern about things they did not like on the new constitution. It is upon all Kenyans to work together, improve the document and come up with a great, universally accepted document for  perfect unity.

Then there is, to me, the most crucial aspect, which is getting every Kenyan whether small or big fish to respect the laws. From the past experience Kenyan past Presidents and even the current one have never respected the rule of Law. One might argue that they used to operate under dictatorial Constitution dispensation which allowed them to operate with excessive powers but still respect of the law should be inbuilt in people’s culture regardless of how many loopholes are available .  When one shore to uphold and protects Kenyan constitution and ask God to help them in doing so, they should do that exactly.

According President Kibaki: The successful and peaceful result of the referendum showed that Kenya’s democratic institutions have come of age.   Yeah much depend on him.. He should ensure that he left behind the right path to full implementation of the constitution and should not interfere with Kenyans choice as to who will succeed him.

“Kenya has been reborn,” declared Kiraitu Murungi.  Many Kenyans share the same sentiment and happiness. Well done Kenyans and may God bless you all

What is your opinion on the topic?
Kennedy Kachwanya
Lead Blogger at Kachwanya.com
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Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.
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