KEY INDIVIDUAL(s)

Koketso Moeti

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM
THIS CASE STUDY

Governments

Policymakers

NGOs & CSOs

Civic Tech activists

KEY CATEGORIES

Advocacy

Democracy

Community

Campaigns

Human Rights

CONTACT CTIN

CASE STUDY

Amandla.mobi: Action for Mzansi

TYPE OF ORGANISATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INITIATIVE

NAME

EMAIL

WEBSITE

Amandla.mobi

hola@amandla.mobi

STATUS

COUNTRY

FOUNDING DATE

Live

South Africa

2014

N/A

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CASE STUDY

Amandla.mobi is a platform that aims to “turn every cellphone in South Africa into a democracy tool” by using Whatsapp, SMS, USSD, Web and social networking to run multi-issue and multilingual campaigns so that people can connect and call for accountability on various matters.

With Amandla.mobi citizens can receive campaigns on several issues in their preferred languages and take action such as signing the campaign so that Amandla.com can reach its signature target and therefore request action and accountability from corporations and the government. Amandla.mobi is a movement of over 962,049+ people, working to build a more just people-powered society.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT AMANDLA.MOBI

What was the problem?

  • Growing up in South African homelands, Koketso Moeti, experienced the hardships faced by black people, especially low-income black women where development decisions were taken without their consideration. Such decisions had the potential to harm progress within a community and these people had no platforms to voice their concerns.
  • Amandla.Mobi launched its first campaign in June 2014. The campaign was run with young people from townships across Ekurhuleni, in isiZulu, using USSD and SMS and focused on youth unemployment.
  • Since then Amandla.Mobi has grown into a national movement of over half a million people, with members in every province. We’ve run over 300 campaigns and worked with over 40 community organisations, NGOs and social movements.
  • Together, our team, volunteers, partners and members have amplified the voices of Black women from low-income backgrounds.

What was the approach taken to it?

  • With the power of technology, Koketso knew there was a way to amplify underrepresented voices. The platform uses SMS, USSD, Whatsapp and social media to run multi-issue and other institutions. Amandla.Mobi enables citizens to connect with each other to form a collective voice with impact and power to hold political and corporate interests to account.
  • The mobile and multilingual platform empowers members to enable collective action on issues, ranging from public safety, education, the cost of communication and more to create change from the palms of their hands.
Amandla.Mobi's Impact

Stop using R-5 assault rifles campaign:

  • Run with Gun Free South Africa, the campaign saw our former Police Minister create a Task Team to address police brutality and the banning of R-5 rifles from crowd control, and remove R-5s from public order  policing in the meantime; 

Justice for Marikana campaign:

  • Amandla.Mobi members organise 77 community events across the country to demand justice for Marikana. This helped force eTV to agree to screen the Marikana documentary Miners Shot Down, and more recently the government has committed to compensation; 

Tax justice campaign:

  • With Oxfam and the Economic Justice Network, we put pressure on Finance Minister Nene who agreed to attend a key international summit to curb illicit financial flows, and Finance Minister Gordhan announced new regulations. 

Solidarity with Fees Must Fall campaign:

  • Helped stop the proposed increase of university fees in 2016, and forced the Department of Higher Education and Training to release their ‘no-fee varsity’ report, which provides a policy platform for reforming higher education funding. On a local level we helped Durban University of Technology students  get their qualifications released so they could begin looking for employment; 

Scrap the Virgin Bursaries campaign:

  • Successfully maintained pressure to get the virgin bursaries scheme scrapped in uThukela District Municipality; 

SABC censorship campaign:

  • Worked with SOS Coalition, Media Monitoring Africa and Freedom of Expression Institute to successfully put enough public pressure on the SABC and ICASA to overturn a SABC censorship policy and reinstate 7 journalists who  had been fired, as well as build enough public pressure for President Zuma to sign the  Special Investigation Unit proclamation to allow for investigations into corruption; 

Data Must Fall campaign:

  • Built pressure to ensure government and regulators including ICASA and the Competition Commission to initiate inquiries. We ensured over 44,000 submissions were made which resulted in new regulation benefiting at least 20 million South African pre-paid users whose bundles will no longer expire after 30 days and who now have the choice to opt into expensive out-of-bundle rates.

Sugary drinks tax campaign:

  • Together with our partners HEALA, Health-e and Priceless we ran a 12-month campaign resulting in Parliament passing and the Presidency signing into law a tax on sugary drinks in order to curb type 2 diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. 

Axe the tax on our periods campaign:

  • Successfully campaigned to have VAT removed from sanitary products. We also successfully forced the government to allocate a budget for free sanitary pads at low-income schools.

Increase the Child Support Grant:

  • Over half a million people added their name to this campaign, and President Ramaphosa announced a top-up of the grant. This campaign victory is extremely significant as it has directly impacted the lives of over 18  million children and 11 million caregivers.
LESSONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

When Koketso’s community was facing evictions by the government, she said at times she had to use her cell phone to access information on how to resist evictions and started to blog – drawing attention to what was happening in her community. She would then bulk SMS text to neighbouring communities whenever organising a protest so they could shut down their roads. 

“One cell phone allowed the coordination of mass action; we went from a community of 1500 households to having people from every corner of the country fighting alongside us to keep us in our homes”. 

After this mass action yielded positive results with the evictions being rescinded, Koketso recounts how it suddenly became a question of “How can someone replicate this form of organising, at scale, in ways that people can connect with each other, but without creating de facto power brokers?” 

After considerable thought to this, it became clear that the one thing that South Africans have in common across racial, class and gender divisions is a cell phone. That was key in starting Amandla.Mobi. To learn more about Koketso Moeti’s journey and how she founded Amandla.mobi read her interview – Democracy in the Palm of Your Hand with the Obama Foundation

RELATED LINKS & DOWNLOADS

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NOTE: The case studies submitted will be used in content creation, we will write articles on your work that engages with our readers. The case studies will also be compiled and added to our CTIN database of civic tech case studies and shared through our various channels.