A while back, a friend (Mikul) mentioned to me the possibility of having all people vying to be members of parliament in an online database of sorts through which Kenyans could, media, and International Media could monitor the happenings in Kenyan Politics on a county by county or constituency by constituency basis. This idea really excited me and after tweeting or mentioning the same to someone, they told me that it is already there and pointed me to Mzalendo.
Mzalendo is a website that was set up by Ory Okolloh to keep tabs on members of Parliament in Kenya. I have been there, looked at a couple of profiles, read up on the information that has so far been collected about the MP’s. It is indeed an incredible resource. However, I have found some crucial information missing on even key ministers and that made me wonder about the possibility of not only having profile of the current MP’s but going beyond that to include profiles of those vying to be members of parliament. Would this even be viable given the difficulty in filling up the profiles of the current members of parliament?
From what I have seen so far, people have been asked to volunteer information on any of the Members of Parliament to fill up their profiles. Is this the best model and would the same be a feasible model for seeking information for the vying members of parliament in 2012?
The platform will be the place where those vying to be members of parliament and those vying to be governors for the counties have their profiles which will comprise their achievements, their track record, and experience, what they promise to do for the county or constituency in their years in parliament or senate as well etc. This however will not stop at that because comments would be allowed where people from these counties and constituencies can interrogate them on the various issues, vet their credentials, and in every other way get to know the people they will be voting for.
This platform would be such a big disconnect from the past where all we knew about the members of parliament we were to vote for were the little snippets in the news showing them using cliché leadership utterances at political gatherings. And most of us usually don’t have to go to these political campaigns and even if we had the time, we probably would not go because nothing worthwhile is ever said, nothing concrete that we can hold those vying accountable to. And frankly, you always get the feeling that they make up the stuff they say right there on the podium as they speak. Few of these guys have manifestos because vying for these positions to them is a popularity contest as opposed to a grave responsibility.
The Platform can be developed such that only the serious contenders who have thought beyond the campaigns will be comfortable to upload and update their profiles, upload their manifesto’s, outline their development agenda, and let people vet their leadership credentials. Looking at some members of parliament today, they are a Joke. You wonder how they get elected when clearly they lack the mental and moral capacity to do anything for their constituents. Making uploading a manifesto or outlining your development agenda a required field will definitely cut out the jokers who hog the limelight because of their noise levels. And using the development agenda that they outline, they know that a recall will be in order if they don’t accomplish these.
May be you can advice on how best to go about registering the vying people on to the platform but I think reaching out to those planning to vie for county or parliamentary positions to register themselves would work out best. This will require a comprehensive marketing strategy that should see most politicians want to have a profile. And because we are all very likely to write up the most flattering things about ourselves, the less fascinating stuff that might surface will emerge from the public who will seek clarification, interrogate aspects of your past – if it’s tainted – and also interrogate your plans for the constituency based on their needs as your constituents. As opposed to podiums where politicians love to shout from, this will be a place where those you are communicating with will hold you to account on what you say.
Even without the platform proposed above, I think may aspects that would have been covered with the platform will still be covered online on various platforms – social media mainly – though in an unstructured manner. Politicians will be put to book in the various platforms online by Kenyans online who are now their fans on Facebook or their followers on Twitter. And even those who lack an online presence will not be spared either because Kenyans will still discuss them on these social platforms as they still do now.
All said and done, I would still prefer a structured platform… Its impact would be greater especially when conversations about the various members happening elsewhere online are aggregated onto the platform… Have I mentioned a mobile version of the platform? Well, that too.
What are your thoughts?