Few political parties online in advance of Mozambican elections
Mozambique will hold municipal elections on November 20 with general elections to follow in 2014. Online political activity is currently scarce but great potential for interaction exists.
The Internet is still largely unexplored by political forces in Mozambique. Although as low as 4% of the population may have Internet access, the number of Internet users – an estimated 600,000 – is more than enough to influence the results of an election. Plus, Internet users tend to be more highly educated and reside in urban areas. In other words, Internet users are people of relatively high influence compared to the general population.
Global Voices reports Mozambican platform Olho Cidadão (Eye of the Citizen) launched a new blog on April 2, 2013. The site has already provided an analysis of the presence of Mozambican political parties on the Internet. A translation of the site yields interesting findings about the online state of political parties in Mozambique.
As of April 2013, only three political parties as listed on the Government of Mozambique’s (outdated) page have websites:
Frelimo – is also on Twitter with 551 followers and Facebook with more than 5,000 fans
Renamo – on Facebook but number of fans is private
MDM – has 289 Facebook fans
With elections more than seven months out, the presence of political forces on social networks is weak. Time exists for activity to heat up and no doubt voters will turn to the Internet to get news and voice opinions. As Olho Cidadão points out, citizens are freer to openly discuss deep issues online, assuming there is no censorship. Nothing is said about how many Mozambicans are already discussing politics, but we should remember the 2013 elections for municipal roles. General elections will be held in 2014.
Political parties would be wise to utilize the Internet as there are a rapidly growing number of influential Mozambicans online. Even better, online campaigning is cheaper than traditional print media. Just don’t be surprised if it takes until September for political activity to really heat up online. Either way, the 2013 elections will serve as a warm-up for next year’s general elections.