Digital communication, democracy and active citizen engagement in South Africa

SOURCE: Africa Insight
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2013
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.Van der Merwe, N.Bohler-Muller
KEYWORDS: CITIZENSHIP, COMMUNICATION, DEMOCRACY, DIGITAL DIVIDE
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8073

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Abstract

This article argues that in the rapidly changing world of today, it is strongly recommended that governments keep up with trends and that they develop up-to-date policies for the constructive use of information and communication technology (ICT) platforms. These policies should be informed by the needs of their citizens and aligned with the prescripts and universal values entrenched in international law. It is argued that providing access to technologies that enhance communication would provide citizens with a voice in matters ranging from national politics to local service delivery, thereby strengthening democratic practices, provided that people also feel that their voices are being heard. This article looks at examples of developments that have taken place in South Africa recently and touches upon the importance of using digital communication to promote political and civic participation and activism.