All of our research around important topics broadcast and discussed on social media are summarised here. These are the highlights you should know about.
Financial relief announced
Basic Unemployment Grant
President Ramaphosa announced a temporary R350 a month grant for unemployed people who do not receive any other form of social grant or UIF payment. The grant will be provided for 6 months and about 10 million people may be eligible.Many South Africans called on the president to turn the short-term grant into a permanent Universal Basic Income style grant.
Child Support Grant
The President also announced an increase in the child support grant for the next 6 months, which was welcomed by many families who are struggling to put food on the table.
Twitter was torn over the increase in the Child Support Grant. While many NGOs, activists and parents welcomed the announcement, many believed it would create a new problem for South Africa, as it would be impossible to reduce the grant after the initial 6 month period.
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Deployment
After the President’s address on April 21st, DA leader John Steenhuisen posted a letter from the President informing Parliament of the deployment of the entire SANDF to enforce the lockdown. The deployment was confirmed by the government the very next day (April 22) and means 73 000 more SANDF members will be deployed, costing an estimated R4.6 billion.
South Africans tweeted both their approval and concerns around the decision. Some observed that South Africa would be spared the R4.6 billion financial burden if lockdown rules were abided by, while others highlighted recent incidents of apparent abuse of power by the SANDF, with concerns of how this would play out with 73 000 more being deployed.
Crime down during lockdown
Police Minister Bheki Cele released crime statistics for March-April compared to the same period in 2019. Murder rates were down by 72%, rape down by 87%, attempted murder down by 66% and domestic violence down by 69.4%. Cele attributed the decreases to the ban on alcohol sales and commended police officers for a job well done.
While the news was welcomed by South Africans, Twitter users remarked that this result was common sense because of the visible policing and not because of the of banning alcohol or cigarettes.
Health Check – the top trending topics of the day
In South Africa
The #CovidNurseStayAway conversation attracted over 3 000 Unique Authors on 22 April. It drove a spike in volume, and trended with a 73% burst. Nurses are protesting against the lack of Personal Protective Equipment and financial incentives to do the high risk job. Twitter was divided, while many people agree healthcare workers should receive financial incentives during the pandemic, others likened their actions to extortion for a job they signed up for.
The start of human vaccine trials in the UK was the 5th biggest trending topic for the day. Over 500 healthy people between the ages of 18 and 55 will take part in the first phase of the trial. Germany has also received the green light to test vaccines on humans.
DSTV criticized for not decreasing premiums
The #DSTVMUSTFALL petition trended throughout the morning of 24 April. With 54 405 signatures, the target for #SignThePetition was raised to 75 000.
South Africans behind the petition feel that DSTV is taking advantage of them, as it has allegedly dropped fees in other African countries, but not in South Africa. This is further exacerbated by the lack of live sport right now.
We were given a moment of comic relief on Thursday evening when President Cyril Ramaphosa signed off his address to the nation with an unintended face-mask blunder. Within two minutes of his mask fail, there were hundreds of memes on social media poking fun at the president. However none were malicious or mean and the very next day the President responded good naturedly, acknowledging the funny side of it. This led to the next trending hashtag #CyrilFridays where many citizens took to praising the president for his bravery and leadership during this emergency.
Allaying IMF fears
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni noted the public concern over South Africa borrowing money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and has attempted to allay fears.He explained that the biggest portion of relief would come in the form of bank loans issued to small businesses on favourable terms. South Africa was entitled to apply for $4.2 billion from the IMF in response to the pandemic.It’s worthy of noting thatmentions of the IMF in relation to the pandemic and Tito Mboweni were primarily from news sources and not individual Twitter accounts.
UV Lights and disinfectant injections
During a recent press briefing, US President Donald Trump made very questionable suggestions regarding the use of strong UV lights, or disinfectant injected into the body, as a treatment for Covid-19.Engagement with this post drove a spike in volume on the day and it was the fourth biggest topic by volume for the day.
The most retweeted and liked response in the South African Covid-19 conversation compared the US and South African death rate, commenting that the difference was “leadership”.