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Ugandan Prime Minister Interacts on Twitter Using #AskthePM

#AskthePM is a hashtag created for online users to interact with the Prime Minister of Uganda, Amama Mbabazi. The fourth #AskthePM took place on 27 October, 2012.

In email correspondence with one of the coordinators of the initiative, Ruth Aine (@Ruthaine) said the idea came from Allan Kasujja when he was with Capital Radio (he is now with BBC Newsday):

The idea was to have a reasonable number of journalists and people from Twitter who would come to interact with the Prime Minister, engage him and direct questions to him raised off Twitter, not by just them who are present.

Ruth says that because of short notice, there were four bloggers, a participant from the Ministry of Health and an IT technocrat. The other coordinator for #AskthePM is Angelo Izama (@Opiaiya).

A quick survey of #AskthePM tweets shows that Ugandan netizens are divided over the structure and the significance of the initiative.

Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Image by Helene C. Stikkel for the US Department of Defense. (Public Domain)

Prime Minister's Answers:
The Prime Minister talked about corruption, education, capacity building, etc:

@Opiaiya: The greatest challenge we have now is overcoming attitudes of dependency “introduced by the British” says @AmamaMbabazi #AskthePM

@xklam8n: @JoyDoreenBiira PM said govt will improve ways of detecting corruption & create a significant deterrent against public fund theft..#AskThePM

@graceseb: #AskthePM #Mynotes Govt of Uganda is working towards a #Noagelimit to acquire education and learning for #UgandaNext50 years

@observerug: RT @Opiaiya: “If each time a bureaucrat steals a PM must resign no prime minister wd last 2 days”says @AmamaMbabazi #AskthePM

@graceseb: #AskthePM #Mynotes Lets Build capacity in Investigating Government organs because the challenge with our cases is lack of enough evidence

Is #AskthePM a Waste of Time?

@enamara: @tmsruge Not to even one tweet of all people who asked him to clarify… so for me.. I don't see any point at all in #AskthePM @Ruthaine

@tmsruge thought the session was “another soap box”:

@tmsruge: What’s the point of #AskThePM exactly? Just another soap box to make empty promises or to report tangible improvements?

@gatimo1: Until so-called leaders like @AmamaMbabazi get some Remorse and Humility this #AskThePm is a waste of precious Weekend tym

Others thought that it was simply a waste of time:

@ssojo81: Amama Mbabazi is now fooling us that he did not know about the corruption in his office. Thank God I did not waste my weekend on #AskThePM

@jmakumbi: @enamara Doubt there will be another #AskThePM while the OPM [Office of the Prime Minister] scandal [theft of £10m aid money from Ireland and Britain] is still fresh. Just my humble opinion. NRM [National Resistance Movement] guys tend to duck questions

@SongaStone: #AskThePM and then what?

Some netizens turned to humour to show their disapproval of #AskThePm:

@Since_1986: Asking the PM about corruption is like asking if the pope is a muslim… #AskThePm

@Smawyri: #AskThePM The PM won't answer any of my questions. Can I atleast get my data used to tweet at @AmamaMbabazi back?

@KingArtha: Since u won't answer any of the people's questions how about drinks on you tonight at Kampala Club ? #AskThePM

#AskthePM is Awesome:

@rubatimo: That awesome moment when your tweet to the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister gets a reply. @AmamaMbabazi you are the best. #AskthePM.

@BoazShani: @Opiaiya I think the PM did great today by answering most tweeps and #AskThePM well only get better with time @AmamaMbabazi @laskasujja

@xklam8n: @enamara Tangible results from #AskThePM? We get clarifications on govt programs for the youth, education, health sectors etc e.g. (contd)..

#AskthePM Needs Improvement:

@pmagelah: @tmsruge @Ruthaine I believe #AskThePM can be managed better & improved, PM can involve his ministers to answer some of the querries

@nasikyeesther: I think the next tweetup @AmamaMbabazi shd 4cus on few topics other than general issues from sport, to health, education @Ruthaine #AskthePM

@kevrx: Is there a final report or something on the highlights of #AskThePm or Do we just have to follow the tag? Cc @Opiaiya

@henryndawula: #AskthePM where the answers?

Finally, one Twitter user wonders about the future of #AskthePM in view of attempts by the Ugandan police to monitor social networks in Uganda:

@pmagelah: What is the future of #AskThePM when police moves to censure social networks as it has proposed increased ‘monitoring”

Another one, @texasinafrica, hopes that #AskthePM will lead to real accountability in Uganda:

@texasinafrica: I LOVE watching Ugandans pose tough questions in #askthePM. But only valuable if it leads to real accountability.

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