Tool review: What information are parliamentary monitoring websites imparting to citizens?

Digital parliamentary monitoring platforms have become an important vehicle for democracy in the digital age

Image: Sang Hyun Cho/Pixabay

1. Mzalendo, Kenya

Picture: Mzalendo
  • It provides access to parliamentary proceedings through daily tweets (Social media following: Twitter 15, 541 and Facebook 19, 846)
  • It is also a source and enabler for access to information on MPs through its website, annual scorecard and social media pages
  • It has a public participation platform — our #Dokeza platform which allows citizens to share memorandum and views on bills in the house
  • It acts as a connector between MPs and citizens, providing a platform through which MPs can enumerate their business in the house through their YouTube Channel
  • Mzalendo also researches and networks with similar civil society organisations and partners on issues regarding youth, gender and political participation, accountability and transparency in line with their slogan “Keeping an Eye on Kenyan Parliament.”

What information is there?

Mzalendo provides access to information on parliament including which political parties are in parliament, the Hansard (the official record of the Kenyan National Assembly), the committee system, democracy resources citizens can use, parliament news and research.

Ease of use

The interface of the site is user-friendly and uses the colours of the Kenyan flag. It is clear and legible and produces results quickly after a simple or advanced search. It is also a mobile-friendly site. It has strong and visible calls to action asking citizens to SMS, give input on bills and subscribe to a newsletter.

2. Odekro, Ghana

Picture: Odekro
  • With a monthly average of 6,300 website visitors, it provides access to parliamentary proceedings through its weekly “This week in the Parliament” and the “What to Expect from Parliament” blog posts
  • It is also a source and enabler for access to information on MPSs through its website, annual scorecard and social media pages.
  • It shares the transcript of the proceedings in the Parliament of Ghana which is called the Hansard

What information is there?

There is information available on members of parliament for every constituency, the parliament’s Hansard, transcripts of parliament proceedings, current bills which are making their way through parliament, content on parliament bills, weekly parliament updates, parliament bills and acts.

Ease of use

It is a simple website but it has an older interface, but it is user-friendly and legible to the general public. The information is provided in simple enough language so citizens can understand. The site has a mobile responsive layout, however, it is a bit slower than the other sites. Some of the information is lost in the bold colour and small font. It does have some calls to actions to either follow them on social media and sign up to their newsletter.

3. People’s Assembly & PMG, South Africa

Picture: People’s Assembly
  • PMG keeps citizens updated on Parliament’s activities
  • It also live-tweets parliament proceedings to give citizens parliament news as it happens. Currently, it has about 4,203 followers on Twitter.

What information is there?

PMG provides details of public hearings, parliamentary programmes, and legislative programmes for departments. It also has a bill tracker, ministerial replies to MPs’ written questions, research on the functioning of parliament. There is also access to national, provincial and local representatives on its sister website, People’s Assembly. People’s Assembly has the ‘Our RepLocator’ platform which allows citizens to find out who their representative is and where their nearest constituency office is located.

Ease of use

PMG is quite informative, and not so much a visually appealing website. It is easily navigatable, but it is a somewhat plain and old site. However, the sister site People’s Assembly makes up for where PMG lacks. People’s Assembly is a people-oriented and easy to use. The information provided on both sites is tailor-made to the interests of citizens interested in parliament matters. The sites are both mobile responsive and load up at a quick speed. The sites kept a simple colour scheme which works well for the sites’ clarity and drawing the user towards important information. It does have strong calls to actions for citizens to write to a MP or a parliamentary committee if they have a problem.

4. ParliamentWatch, Uganda

Picture: ParlaimentWatch
  • It provides updates on Parliament’s activities
  • It keeps citizens informed on Parliament bills
  • It also includes petitions on issues affecting citizens
  • The platform is quite active on social media with 27,593 Facebook followers and 66 800 Twitter followers, it also live-tweets parliament proceedings

What information is there?

ParliamentWatch provides information on MPs, Hansards of par­lia­ment and bills, committee meetings, petitions, budgets, ministerial statements, and parliament news.

Ease of use

It is a clean and legible website, updated regularly with the latest bills and parliament meetings. It is a bit long but the information is worth the length. It is very responsive and has a mobile responsive layout. It kept a simple colour scheme which works well for the site’s clarity and drawing the user towards important information. It does have some calls to actions to either follow them on social media or get in touch. Some of the information provided to citizens is in-depth and in that way it stays informative to the citizens. The navigation is quite intuitive and simple to use.

5. Shine Your Eye, Nigeria

Picture: Shine Your Eye
  • It reviews five newspapers weekly and shares the reviews with a network of individuals and organisations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria called Enough is Enough. The database keeps citizens abreast with major highlights in relation to the federal government, state government, and legislature.
  • Shine Your Eye leveraged on the power of social media to communicate its advocacy messages and activities on Twitter with about 1,786 followers.
  • The platform established a relationship with Tracka, a BudgIT project to promote transparency and accountability in the execution of Constituency Projects in Nigeria.

What data is there?

Find more information about your government representatives, democracy resources that let citizens know of their rights including terminology and definitions of democracy-related issues. It also includes information on elections, national state, and local elections.

Ease of use

The website is simple, though perhaps a bit too much so. It is however easy to use and navigate for the general public. The website’s positioning of search bars is a bit unusual. The site has a mobile responsive layout and it loads quickly. It kept a simple colour scheme.

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