As the August General Election nears, funerals and church services have become political platforms for aspirants.
It’s here where they shout the loudest, promising the moon if only to catch the voters’ ear. Of course, they know the voter has no way of questioning how they intend to fulfill their fancy promises.
But a new online platform provides a rare chance to get aspirants eyeing different seats to account for their promises. The My Aspirant My Leader App allows voters to interrogate these pledges, and to weed out leaders out to hoodwink them.
For Janet Muthoni Ouko, who is vying for Nairobi Woman Rep, and Jacob Ouma, an aspirant for the Lang’ata parliamentary seat, the App is a timely blessing to their campaigns. Ms Ouko joined the portal two weeks ago and the response has been overwhelming.
“We are too busy and may not get time to engage with the people. But I still get feedback from people either calling me or engaging me on social media, telling me they got information about me on My Aspirant My Leader,” says the former head of Elimu Yetu Coalition.
Ouma says Oracom Web Solutions Ltd, the App developer, has given Kenyans the opportunity to incorporate technology into politics.
“People got curious when they saw my name on the platform and they came in droves to my social media pages to discuss projects I have initiated and what I plan to work on once elected,” says Mr Ouma. “I believe in partnering with the people for development and this is a great platform to help voters make informed decisions.”
Oracom director Alphonce Juma says using the App, voters will hold those they elect to account, as the manifestos are documented and can always be queried. The digital portal is three-fold; a website, a mobile App and SMS short code.
He says the website, myaspirantmyleader.co.ke, and the free mobile App, My Aspirant My Leader, contain the profiles of aspirants for all posts from all the 47 counties.
Unlike most websites where the developers look for information about aspirants, this platform gives the aspirants the chance to update their own profiles. “The portal provides an account for each aspirant to update their details. The details come to our back end and we do fact-checking before we approve and let it up onto the website,” says the 30-year-old.
The App communicates directly to the website. Also, once installed in the phone, the App can be accessed offline and you do not need data to do so. When you visit the website or open the App, they prompt you to enter your county and the position for which you want to know aspirants. The system then provides a list of all the aspirants for the position queried.
To subscribe to the service without the Internet or smart phones, you just send a free SMS with the word SIASA to 22204 and you get the opportunity to know your aspirants. Once you have subscribed, you can ask about any candidate.
“This portal allows you to communicate directly with the aspirant or their agents through the contact information they provide. You can call, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook or tweet the aspirant if they provide such contacts,” he says.