BBC World News launches its South African election coverage with instant messaging trial and TV debate special in early May 2014.
The debate, 'South Africa decides: Is democracy delivering?', will be presented by Lerato Mbele and Audrey Brown and broadcast on BBC World News TV on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 May and BBC World Service radio from Friday 2 May. Mxit opens up election comments
For the first time the BBC will also be taking to instant messaging platform Mxit, to hear what voters across South Africa think as they go to the polls, including a generation of young people born into a country free of racial segregation, who will be voting for the first time.
The BBC's Mxit channel will allow voters to have their say by submitting comments instantly. It will also distribute the best of the BBC's coverage of the election via text updates, headlines, images, programme information and links to online coverage, all optimised for mobile.
Trushar Barot, assistant editor for the social media hub at BBC News, said, "Instant messaging apps have had phenomenal user growth in the past year. We know that hundreds of millions of people are using these platforms to stay connected, but increasingly also to share news stories, pictures and videos. In South Africa, we know that many younger voters in particular are using apps like Mxit to talk about what matters most to them in this election. It made sense for us to engage with them on a platform they are already familiar with and share our best content in a way that makes sense for them. We'll be very interested in seeing what they share with us too and we'll try and get the best of that content used more widely across BBC News in radio, online and TV."
TV analysis on business, Africa, economics of election
On television, BBC World News will be drawing on the expertise of top presenter Zeinab Badawi and its Johannesburg-based bureau team, Milton Nkosi and Nomsa Maseko. The BBC's African Business unit, launched last year to bring impartial, objective business coverage to audiences across Africa, will provide context and analysis.
Flagship weekly business programme Africa Business Report, presented by Lerato Mbele, will look at the economic issues at stake this election time and hear from a cross-section of society about why the election matters to them. The programme will also be at the World Economic Forum in Nigeria for reaction from Africa's big financial institutions on the election results.
The elections will also be covered extensively on Focus on Africa, the BBC's daily news programme in English for African audiences. All this will be supported by live online coverage at www.BBC.com/southafricavotes
. Follow BBC News South Africa on Mxit by searching for the ID 'BBCNewsSA' and clicking 'Invite'.