When you get stung by your latest opposition start up, you begin to question just how transformational these pesky mobile phones really are.
Chama Cha Jamii’s claimed use of mobile phone technology in its membership drive has been getting some mention in the Tanzanian press. Positive mention of same on the Aid Thoughts blog, and on Chris Blattman’s site mean it is in danger of becoming one of those oft repeated ‘facts’ that tell us something and nothing. From Aid Thoughts:
How do they do it? Quite simple, really: mobile phones. Prospective members send a text to the number 15337 including the word ‘CCJ’, then their exact name, a star, their address, a star, their state, a star and their area. After three weeks, a registration card will be sent to the address listed.
Which isn’t quite how it works. Send a text to that number and they text you back, asking for your name, constituency, branch and region. Send that and CCJ will get back to you immediately with your membership number and a promise to get your card to you in three weeks. But they don’t have your address. So they can’t.
It’s a premium rate fund raising scam. I should know. The membership number they sent me is CCJ000128.
UPDATE: let’s be fair. They assure me on the phone that they will be in touch within three weeks to distribute cards in my area. With the low numbers taking it up – indicated by my membership number – it can’t be a great fund raising drive. And as for meeting any membership requirements required by the Registrar of Political Parties for full registration, I doubt that a system that issues numbers to false names will be acceptable. Have they thought this through?