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Manto & Facebook

Does Facebook play a part in politics (governmental, not corporate :-)? Of course!

The Sunday Times in South Africa released a front page report yesterday on the South African Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Over and above the fact that Manto is 66 years old and should probably retire anyway, there are calls from almost every opposition party (to the ANC) in South Africa to have her fired for gross misconduct, including obtaining a donor liver and being convicted of theft back in 1976. The politics involved here are insane, and I’m not going to rehash the story, which is also on News24.

What role does Facebook play in this? Well, surprise surprise, there is a Facebook Group adding to the chorus that government should fire Manto.

This group was started just six hours ago and already has nearly 200 members. I’d love to see how much support is lent to this group, and if it has any impact on the outcome as a result of a public-opinion uprising online. I am almost willing to bet that the media will add the Facebook angle to the story later this week and publish some of the comments from there.

The social revolution that is Facebook and other online networks means citizens can no longer be shut up by censoring newspapers or by an obstinate government. Here, groups of people are bandying together online and forming opinion groups with relatively little effort. Everyone has a voice and government officials are finally becoming accountable to the people and the voice of the people, not only the media. The lines are blurring, and in a few years’ time we are going to find that transparency within government will increase massively in order to adapt to the threat of “social media retaliation” … there, I just coined a new phrase!

To be a public servant is exactly that: being a SERVANT. Right now, there are people in government who take the positions as though they become lords, and not servants, and surely as an evolved society, that is totally unacceptable.

Join me in having your voice heard online on Facebook, MySpace or whatever else blows your hair back, but let’s ensure that we evolve our society in a meaningful way. Let our voices now be heard in the swarm of online channels available to us. Maybe we should call it “social empowerment” — last neologism, I promise!