Cyberdemocracy: weapon or sheild?

So in last week’s post I wrote about e-voting and whether it could offer a solution for election disputes in Africa. It surprised me then to see that the very first comment on that post was all about the xenophobic attacks that hit front pages worldwide all of last week. At first the comment seemed just a tad misplaced…but then I thought about further.

Well, where better to have your say than on a blog that has stated that “with the power and wide use of the internet, public opinion can now be disseminated with greater ease and the traditional routes to democracy can be bypassed”.

If it is indeed true that “the web is an open medium that allows the average man a voice louder and more far-reaching than any other” then maybe the comment was perfectly placed to test all that I have said.

So this week I decided to put my money where my mouth is. If cyber-democracy opens new space for social commentary by the average citizen then I open this post as one such space.

Every day for the past two weeks, the nation tuned onto the news to see men with machetes walking the streets, shacks being set alight, whole townships ablaze and women singing “mawahambe amakwerekwere” (the foreigners must go).

And it was only 14 days later that the National Assembly sent in a task team to investigate the attacks. It was only on Sunday that the president spoke out in response to the crisis. It was only after 56 had been killed, 324 shops had been looted and more than 50 000 had been displaced that Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula could bring the situation “under control”.

All I want to know is, what happened South Africa and when?

When did we move from being the rainbow nation to being a nation that stands aside while people are set alight because they “do not belong here”? Since when do we owe no gratitude to our neighbouring countries for the role they played in our liberation? And since when does it take a government with a whole police force and the army (not to mention military aid from the AU and the UN) at their disposal two weeks to act?

Never have I been more ashamed of being South African…not even when I realised that Zuma was leading the race for national presidency!

Last week I was talking to my dad and asked him “when you were my age and saw the injustice all around you, what did you do?” He said, “simple, I became president of Azapo.”

Well I see the injustice and I write. I spark debate. I get the thinkers thinking and hopefully inspire the doers to do.

Maybe e-politics is just the shield we cowards hide behind. But hopefully, it’s the new weapon for war.

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2 responses to “Cyberdemocracy: weapon or sheild?

  1. Glad to see that you’re taking some sort of initiative, which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of people of our apathetic generation. Many of us who aren’t directly affected or endangered by the violence are so preocuppied with the latest gadgetry, or dieting, or parties or social networking and all our own problems ( or whatever it is that young people give a rats ass about these days) that we think that a shake of the head and a tisk-tisk in disagreement and disgust is enough. But then again, our generation didn’t grow up witnessing such atrocities and injustices on a daily basis like our parents did. It might take a little while longer to inspire the revolutionary in any of us, if at all.

  2. Xenophobia and the media is a sticky issue. However, if one considers blogs as part of the media of the 21st century, then I think there is potential for good to be done. The only problem is that your “average person” needs to be one of the 10% of South Africans connected to the internet who is likely to be a white male…

    Nonetheless I think there is hope. Debunking xenophobia is a related post that speaks directly to the issue of cyber-democracy and xenophobia and the media.

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