An opposition leader in South Africa’s Parliament believes social media and increasing mobile phone penetration will play a “pivotal role” in future general elections.
Lindiwe Mazibuko, the Democratic Alliance’s Parliamentary Leader, added in a statement issued today she expected there to be a “shift [in] the balance of power away from the state and monolithic corporates towards its citizens.”
The number of South African Internet users is projected to rise by four million – to 15.2 million – by 2015 and the country’s Twitter presence has doubled in 12 months, now at 2.4 million.
According to business technology researchers World Wide Worx there are currently 10 million smartphones in South Africa and in 2013 sales of smartphones will overtake feature phones for the first time.
Mazibuko said: “Technology is enabling South African citizens to shape the national debate in a way unimaginable even one decade ago.
“Individuals are using smart phone, emails, blogs, Twitter and other platforms to shift the balance of power away from the state and monolithic corporates towards its citizens.”
Mazibuko added the DA was taking advantage of rising mobile penetration by tailoring its digital campaigns.
The leading politician continued: “It is a challenge because the twin forces of the rapid spread of information, and the decline of deference to authority figures, mean that politics is no longer the sole provenance of governments and political parties.
“Around the world, the power of technology is undercutting governments’ former advantage of access to state resources.”