Chatbots (bot), one of the hottest trends in consumer technology, are invading every sphere where interaction between two or more parties is needed. A bot is a software that imitates human behavior. Type a question or statement to an online bot, and it will attempt to respond as a human would. They can be integrated with popular services like Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat etc.
Now one MDC politician is trying to harness the power of bots to serve his constituency. Chalton Hwende, a Member of Parliament representing Kuwadzana East is using a Facebook chatbot to communicate with his people. Through the chatbot, Kuwadzana East residence can;
- Report a problem
- Register their skills
- Report on sewage and water issues
- Make appointments with the MP
- Make suggestions
As Mr. Hwende try to engage with potential voters (in 5 years time) and supporters more meaningfully, a chatbot offers the promise of the ultimate level of engagement. Rather than having a radio or television talk show on which only a few supporters could get their questions through, a chatbot offers everyone a complete access to their politicians through a chatbot. This is what Mr. Hwende could usher in Zimbabwe’s political scene. Another benefit of a chatbot is that they are available 24/7, and since they are programmed. Political accountability would increase significantly as anyone can forward their grievances on the chatbot since its easily accessible than making an appointment to be heard by a politician.