Kenyans Asked to Tweet their Views on the Budget

In a move that might be the most social media friendly we’ve seen from a politician, Kenya’s Finance Minister has asked his Twitter followers for their input on the country’s budget – and promises to take their comments into consideration in the next draft.

Imagine being able to directly voice your concerns over how your country spends its money. In a democracy, you are technically given a voice through your local representative, but this request from Kenya’s Finance Minister goes above and beyond political representation to hear directly from the people.

Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta), Kenya’s Finance Minister, tweeted the following on Friday:

And as Business Daily Africa reports, he received over 300 replies within just three hours.

Using the hashtag #budget2011 and an online form, he collected hundreds of replies from Twitter-savvy and politically-active Kenyans on what they thought about the proposed budget.

On the form linked to via his Twitter account, Kenyatta explains that Kenya’s own Constitution encourages such civic participation:

“Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya recognizes inclusiveness as part of the National Values and Principles of governance. I would thus like to encourage you all to participate in this most crucial process by giving your suggestions, ideas and proposals on the interventions or actions you would like to see in your budget.”

Kenyatta spent all day Friday and Monday morning retweeting Kenyan citizens who participated in the budget discussion.

This is a fantastic example of using social media to empower democracy. At its roots, democracy is the rule of the people, by the people, and what could be more people-oriented than getting direct input into how the country spends its tax revenues? By harnessing Twitter to reach Kenyans online, Kenyatta has shown that any politician interested in actually hearing from the people can do so.

It will be interesting to see whether, and how many, suggestions made via Twitter will actually make it into the budget’s final draft.