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Legislators Using Twitter to Appeal to Online Audience

The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah, the Leader of Opposition Winifred Kiiza and different chairpersons of Parliamentary committees are some of the leaders who are now using the virtual platform to engage audiences on a number of issues.
An advert for live tweet chats with MPs

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Ugandan politicians are increasingly embracing tweet chats to appeal to online audiences in the country and in the Diaspora.  The tweet chats are mainly used to discuss current affairs and parliamentary processes.

A number of sessions have been spearheaded by Parliament of Uganda using the handle @Parliament_Ug which enjoys the following of more than 90,000 people and the Parliament Watch handle @pwatchug ‏ with close to 50,000 followers.

The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah, the Leader of Opposition Winifred Kiiza and different chairpersons of Parliamentary committees are some of the leaders who are now using the virtual platform to engage audiences on a number of issues.

Jackie Kemigisa, a staff with Parliament Watch says the live chat bridge the gap between legislators and their online constituents. She says the engagement is a platform for legislators to respond to their constituents concerns, among other issues.

Kemigisa says that although limited to only those with internet and tweeter handles, some ideas of discussions from Twitter have ended up on the floor of Parliament. She cited the debate on nodding syndrome that ended up in plenary after an online engagement with the speaker.

 

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In a live tweet session, Parliament's Communication and Public Affairs department registers, at least 40 questions asked by the online audience. CPA notes that sometimes the questions and response are so many for the sessions that are usually an hour.

Chris Obore, the Director of Communications at Parliament says that the live tweet chats are meant to increase public participation in Parliamentary business adding that Parliament uses social media, in addition to mainstream media, to inform the public about its roles and enable the constituents to stay in contact with their leaders.

Amos Lugolobi, the Chairperson budget who is among the MPs who have joined the live tweet sessions says the budget is a complex process which needs to be broken down to people. He says having a live tweet chat is different, as MPs meet the unexpected, constituents asking questions, seeking to learn from others. He says with the internet age, more should be done with social media.

 

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Kassanda North MP Patrick Nsamba says the MPs usually get challenges communicating with their constituents but hastens to add that social media only targets the urban audience.

 

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