Africa’s trailblazing creative and digital media organisation, Magamba Network, in collaboration with Ugandan based organisations, WizArts Foundation and Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA), launched Open Parly Uganda on Wednesday 15, March, 2023.
Open Parly Uganda is set to assume the same format of Open Parly ZW, Zimbabwe’s popular youth news platform that has opened up parliament processes to the public. The project has recorded huge success in Zimbabwe and continues to generate massive engagement between young people and decision makers.
The Open Parly Uganda launch started off with a two-day bootcamp that was held in Kampala from the 14th -15th of March 2023 which attracted young people from diverse backgrounds who were taken through an intensive training on parliamentary processes, content creation and participatory democracy principles. This was to ensure that they play a role in closing the gap that is usually left by mainstream media in terms of parliament reporting as well as to help drive young people’s interest and participation in progressive political issues.
Magamba Network Creative Director Samm Farai Monro AKA Comrade Fatso said It was inspiring to see Magamba’s homegrown Zimbabwean media innovation spreading on the African continent.
“The young content creators in Kampala were really motivated by the concept of Open Parly and they bring such great energy to it” Monro said.
Diana Kabenge, the Executive Director of WizArts Foundation, endorsed the initiative, “The youth comprise 78% of Uganda’s population and there has been apathy from the youth in participating in democratic processes and good governance. We therefore believe that having them participate in parliamentary processes through the Open Parly initiative is a step in the right direction.”
Chemonges Timothy the Head of Programmes at the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) noted that the power of social media in influencing civic engagement and decision making could not be understated anymore. “The emergence of youth movements in Uganda typified by the People Power movement and the old guard has been aided in part by the powerful use of social media.
The resurgence of youth agency and a community of activists, human rights defenders and the civically astute and active citizenry has been amplified by social media”, Chemonges said.
Most of the participants who attended the bootcamp applauded the training arguing it had equipped them with knowledge and skills they will use to open up and unpack Ugandan parliament processes to young people.
One participant, Defender Tekakwo, described the bootcamp as extremely impactful and resourceful, and that it had used different training techniques to understand the persona before finding solutions for them.
“I learnt a lot more, in fact I was even personally challenged as I didn’t have interest in affairs of parliament but since I came back, I’m not the same. This will have a great impact in my work and other campaigns we are running”, Tekakwo said.
Another participant, Titus Ngabirano, said the bootcamp created a good engagement which made him realize that all hope was not lost.
“It was a good engagement that really made me realize that all hope is not lost and that as young people we could still impact change through digital media,” Ngabirano said.
Open Parly Africa is a digital media initiative that provides young people real time access to parliamentary proceedings so that they can demand progressive change that leads to a more just future. The initiative started in 2015 which saw the launch of Open Parly Zimbabwe followed by the launch of Open Parly chapters in Somalia (known as Kalfadhi.com), Zambia, Nigeria and now Uganda.
Open Parly is an initiative of Magamba Network. The launch of Open Parly Uganda was part of the CHARM programme, a pan African collaboration to build the resilience of content creators, human rights defenders and civil society activists in order to create more democratic and free societies.