Top of the Blogs 2017 #10

Also available in Deutsch

This week’s Top of the Blogs is about presidents and social media. In an interview DR Congo’s presidential candidate Moïse Katumbi describes his plans to win the elections – from exile. South Africa’s president Zuma is also concerned about giving up power as he needs to avoid possible prosecution from a range of alleged crimes. Blogger Pierre de Vos explains why he’ll probably never face prosecution although there is no legal way for his amnesty. Meanwhile the presidential election campaigning in Kenya is seeing an unexpected wave of fake news trying to manipulate voters. Ghana thus has learned from its elections in 2016 and is pushing forward the idea that social media opens new spaces for public debate.

An interview with Moïse Katumbi, DR Congo’s would-be president
In this interview Moïse Katumbi, presidential candidate in DR Congo, explains what he would do differently from current president Joseph Kabila if he was elected. Katumbi is very popular among Congolese. “If free and fair elections were held, he probably would be president,” blogger James Wan writes. However president Kabila postponed the elections which were supposed to be held in December 2016 and Katumbi had to flee into exile in Brussels. Katumbi doesn’t have a date yet when he will be back in the country, he said in the interview. But he’s preparing a democratic change because president Kabila has no constitutional support to stay in office any longer.

Amnesty for President Zuma? No, it is not legally possible
In his latest article law scholar and blogger Pierre de Vos explains legal possibilities for South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma to avoid prosecution for all the crimes he is alleged to have committed. ANC presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu recently raised the possibility of granting President Jacob Zuma amnesty. Although de Vos only sees one legally valid option which would be for an incoming President to pardon Zuma after he had been convicted of his alleged crimes, the law scholar remains sceptical that President Zuma will ever be prosecuted. He is not convinced that the South African institutions are politically strong enough to mount such a prosecution.

WhatsApp and Facebook are driving Kenya’s fake news cycle
A lot of fake news stories are spread in Kenya via social media networks like Facebook and WhatsApp, roughly two weeks before the country holds a contested general election. Political campaigners, journalists and government officials are concerned about the prevalence and impact of fake news. According to a study by Portland and GeoPoll 90% of Kenyans had heard or seen false stories related to the election. This leads to the conclusion that deliberate spreading of false information is now a core part of the news mix in Kenya. However respondents said they didn’t fully trust information shared on networks like Facebook and WhatsApp. Mainstream media outlets like television, newspapers, and radio were rated as more trustworthy.

Ghana's Social Media Scene Opens New Spaces for Public Debate
During the 2016 Ghanaian presidential elections social media and online platforms became crucial avenues for the electorate. Engaging voters in digital spaces became as important as speaking in public. Furthermore it's not just politicians who have got to know its advantages. Civil society also uses the medium to demand good public services writes blogger Kofi Yeboah. Recently the think tank Imani Africa hosted a forum in the capital Accra to discuss ‘Governance in the Age of Social Media’ focusing on Ghana and Switzerland. Swiss President Doris Leuthard spoke at the forum. She gave an example of how her government has created accessible online platforms to enable citizens.

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