With 33,000 unique visitors and over 142,000 page views from 21st January to 20th February, users are visiting the site to check the profiles of aspirants in their wards and constituencies and many of them confirming who Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga stand for in their presidential race. Profiles of Gideon Mbuvi, Mohamed Abduba Dida and Ferdinand Waititu are also among the highly viewed.
It has also been reported that elders and professionals in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera in North Eastern Kenya, sections of the country which might be thought to be marginalised are leading in the use of technology for democracy. The group of elders and professionals used Mzalendo.com’s MP scorecards to determine who should run for what seat in their counties showing how technology can be used as a tool for good governance and democracy.
Jessica Musila, project manager at Mzalendo says the elders used Mzalendo’s MP scorecards to see their MP’s track record and use it as the basis to make decisions on who was eligible or not.
The platform, yet to carry out an official impact study was launched in 2005 as a blog by Ory Okolloh, a lawyer by profession and Google’s Africa Manager for Policy and Government Relations and Conrad Akunga on realizing citizens had no information on what their MPs were doing.
The site has a CDF scorecard based on the National Taxpayers Association (NTA) findings.
To Musila, who manges the platform’s daily affairs with a team of four, mzalendo.com keeps an eye on the Kenyan Parliament. She adds that the site was relaunched a year ago with scorecards on CDF spending, Hansard appearances and accessibility of MPs.
According to Musila, Our system makes the Hansard interactive and links it to each MPs profiles and with elections a few days away, Mzalendo has linked its system to the IEBC API to access all the aspirants information for elective seats in all counties, constituencies & wards.
Mzalendo is also customised for mobile phones pegging on the fact that there are over 30 million mobile phone subscribers according to CCK and that many Kenyans access the internet using their mobile phones.
Mzalendo solves one major problem. According to Musila, most Kenyans discussing the elections and candidates but do not know who is actually running for which office in their backyards.
That’s the gap we are looking to fill. We do not monitor elections but we think it is important to vet candidates before voting, she says and adds that by providing candidates profiles Mzalendo.com is facilitating openness.
Mzalendo is a free service and any candidate can send their cv, contact details plus a digital sized passport photo for their profile. Voters have a chance to comment on all aspirants on the site or follow them on Twitter at @mzalendowatch or on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/
After the launch of the new new constitution, Mzalendo was refurbished to reflect the new political climate. The team was funded by Omidyar Network, runs on UK’s mySociety.org tech expertise and being founded by a lawyer, follows Article 1 part 1-3 of the Constitution which states: “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with this Constitution. The people may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democractivally elected representatives.”
Mzalendo.com reminds Kenyans that their MPs work for them and they should keep an eye on on them.