Windhoek-Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya has urged public servants to use social media with extreme care to avoid creating the impression they are doing so on behalf of their employer.
Tweya’s advice is contained in the new Social Media Use Policy and Implementation Plan for 2016/17 to 2019/20, tabled by him in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The policy provides guidelines on the code of conduct for government officials using social media networks for official purposes, with the aim of improving transparency and interaction with the public.
The policy is part of pillar one of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) (Effective Governance of Services) that required the Ministry of Information to develop the plan by July 2016.
“Government recognises that the use of social media networks can sometimes blur the line between professional and personal lives and interactions,” Tweya said, adding that civil servants and all government employees who use social media for strictly personal use outside of the workplace do not require approval to do so.
But he also reminded civil servants that, as representatives of their offices, the rules and guidelines contained in the plan must be taken into consideration when participating in these services at any time, particularly when identifying themselves as public servants or employees of offices, ministries, agencies, regional councils and local authorities, or when the context might lead to that conclusion.
The newly developed Social Media Use Policy and Implementation Plan list, among others, the social media platforms most relevant to government. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogging websites, LinkedIn, Short Messaging Services (SMS) and WhatsApp.
Tweya said the use of social media in government should not be seen as a replacement of traditional media outlets, but as a complementary tool to enhance greater information dissemination and government communication with the general public, in accordance with Vision 2030, the national development plans and the HPP.
Tweya said he was quite confident that the policy would promote improved dialogue between the government and the citizenry, thus enhancing participatory democracy, transparency and accountability.