This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and their narratives related to social cohesion and division in South African public-domain social media conversations on 30 June 2020. Global trends impacting on South Africa are also included.
Distrust in the ANC
This theme looks at the growing distrust in the ANC and its leaders. The three narratives under this theme are largely based on the ongoing corruption and looting by government officials. Twitter users have been voicing their frustrations, calling for action against corruption and the downfall of the ruling party using the hashtag #ANCMustFall. The theme was mainly driven by the topic “Jacob Zuma” under top topics by snapshot and “people” under top topics by volume with over 69 000 mentions.
A hashtag called #ItWasNeverJacobZuma trended on social media yesterday. The hashtag has been used to defend former President Jacob Zuma, claiming that he was not responsible for corruption in the ANC, as it has remained rife in the party since his political term ended. @Advovolicious tweeted, “The cartel political parties ANC & EFF removed President Jacob Zuma and claimed he is corrupt. Julius Malema was even brave enough to say “If we remove Zuma we get rid of corruption” the fact is, the problem was never Jacob Zuma. It was never Jacob Zuma. #ItWasNeverJacobZuma #Zuma”. The tweet received over 1 400 likes, 400 retweets and 86 comments, with one reply asking “So who was the problem?” Some Twitter users took the opportunity to express adulation for Jacob Zuma. Wandisa shared a three part thread detailing that Zuma hatred is misdirected, “It Was Never Jacob Zuma. President Jacob Zuma was the most pan Africanist President South Africa ever had since 1994. The hatred they had against him and using all the tools they have to convince many that he is a problem show how much they fear him. #ItWasNeverJacobZuma.” This received over 964 likes and 245 retweets. @KingMntungwa shared a Jacob Zuma pictorial appreciation tweet, “Appreciate Tweet for President Jacob Zuma ❤️ Akekho Oyofana Nawe.” The tweet received over 1 400 like and 259 retweets.
Some South Africans are taking to social media to vocalise their frustrations with our current leadership, and expose alleged corruption. @Advovolicious shared a video of people pouring water from a truck into a field. He tweeted “People of Pongola in Zululand Region do not have water but the ANC members chose to pour water down in pursuit of quick cash President Cyril Ramaphosa buka abantu bakho laba. #ANCHatesSouthAfricans #ANCMustFall.” The tweet received over 96 800 views, 1 000 likes, 736 retweets and 125 comments, including a media statement image from the KwaZulu MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs requesting an explanation of the water truck dumping video. @LvovoSA posted a video of a man sharing his frustrations with corruption in South Africa and how everyone appears to be corrupt including ward councillors, children of leaders and labour brokers. He tweeted, “Country hambile bafethu. The people we trust to make our lives better are stealing our livelihoods! We are being robbed of the lives we deserve to live! Time to revolt!!!” The video tweet received over 13 800 views, 1 300 likes and 790 retweets. While Naledi shared a call for action against supporting failing revolutionary parties. She tweeted, “Youths don’t owe these revolutionary parties anything! ANC, ZANU PF etc. They have failed us! We have to assemble the broken pieces and rebuild Africa. Good morning!” The tweet received 1 000 likes and 260 retweets. President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a new regulation that allows law enforcement agencies to use evidence presented at the Zondo Commission, “Pres. @CyrilRamaphosahas signed new regulations that allow evidence from the Zondo Commission to be accessed and used by law enforcement agencies, such as the Hawks & the NPA.” shared Kgauza Lecowza. The tweet received 483 likes and 187 retweets.
“The ANC is imploding. They stole the money. They stole the goodwill. They stole the education, infrastructure, and opportunity of a generation. They stole the confidence, support & trust of the global community. They wasted all opportunities. They won’t survive another election!” posted Rudi van der Merwe. The tweet received 462 likes and 189 retweets. This was one of many posts expressing displeasure with the ANC, as the hashtag #ANCMustFall began trending. @BINLANDEN_SA shared, “ANC is an organisation of friends and families not masses. #ANCMustFall”. The tweet received 591 likes and 123 retweets. @AdvoBarryRoux posted, “Young people are in the ANC with the hope that their turn to loot will come one day.” The tweet received over 6 000 likes, 1 400 retweets and 291 with users agreeing with the tweet. Meanwhile Neli Ngqulana asked people to campaign against the ANC within their communities in a tweet that read, “During the next election campaign season, as citizens we must also run our own door to door and remind each other why we should not vote for the ANC. Because whoa, we can’t live like this.” The tweet received over 1 700 likes, 871 retweets and 82 comments, with people replying that they won’t be voting while some asked for suggestions on who to vote for. Senamela Thabo asked that we vote for EFF in 2021, “2021 we are voting @EFFSouthAfrica akere bazalwane, can I get Amen . #ANCMustFall.” The video tweet filled with EFF members received over 11 200 views, 1 000 likes and 165 retweets. While Christo asked South Africans that even against the mounting corruption and looting, to keep hope alive. He tweeted, “Bazalwane, don’t lose hope in South Africa. We are beautiful people. We have a great country. We have the intellectual power to create a better tomorrow. We can work together! But we must unite and drive out boloi bo corruption. Enough is enough!” The tweet received over 1 200 likes and 246 retweets.
The coronavirus pandemic and its impact on South Africans’ lives continues to feature as a top topic online. The second most popular #hashtag yesterday was #COVID-19, with 6787 mentions, while the number two topic for the day was ‘law enforcement’, which featured numerous mentions of COVID-19 legislation.
Correct protocol for PPE
Correct use of PPE featured as a popular topic on Twitter yesterday. @Laurie_Garret authored a thread about the importance of wearing masks correctly, in which she explained that covering the nose with a snug mask seemed to reduce the likelihood of infections. Her tweet was retweeted 1300 times and liked 2100 times. Similarly, the United States’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tweeted a request for people to wear woven cloth masks to reduce COVID-19 spread. Responses to both tweets were mixed, with many in the United States furthering the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax perpetuated by democrats. Back home, @Thando_Upendo tweeted that people should wear clear face masks, so that deaf people are able to lip-read. Her tweet was retweeted 2600 times and liked 7800 times at the time of writing.
Statistics related to COVID-19 drove conversation on Twitter yesterday, with various users offering analyses and comments on South Africa’s COVID-19 numbers. @toknsrevenge tweeted, “Some good news just in case you didn’t know. SA now has a recovery rate of 60% and we’re record less than 10k cases in one day for the first time in a while, and the curve seems to be flattening. ” @DrZweliMkhize’s tweet, based on official South African data as at 29 July, supported this claim: while South Africa has over 470 000 cases, 297 000 of these cases were recovered. Responses to the tweet are mixed, with some criticising the government for corruption over various coronavirus-related tenders, while others joked about ‘being number 1’ in the world.
As lockdown in South Africa continues, adherence to the lockdown regulations has featured as a popular topic of conversation on Twitter. Yesterday many South Africans were critical of what they described as the hypocritical nature of the South African Government. Criticisms were focused around the behaviour of Law Enforcement officers and politicians at the funeral of Andrew Mlangeni, the last living Rivonia Trialist who passed away on Tuesday 28 July. @Kgomo389 called on Bheki Cele to arrest Senior Law Enforcement Officials for smoking, asking how they were able to obtain cigarettes.
Many South Africans have expressed sadness at not being able to take the bodies of family members into their homes the night before the funeral, which was permitted for Mr Mlangeni. @Mtha_Veekay tweeted, “Yho. Hamba ANC! What an occasion this would have been to demonstrate to the country how funerals are supposed to be conducted during lockdown but alas! We are led by immature and senseless comrades who live for the spotlight”. @Kwazzay’s tweet on the issue read, “At a state funeral, no social distancing, massive crowd, law enforcement smoking illicit cigarettes on live television during a 4 month national ban. Citizens couldn’t travel to bury their grandmothers and aunts but these so called leaders flout regulations on live TV. Shameful”. The two tweets had a combined 5000 likes and 2900 retweets at the time of writing.
South Africans in the entertainment industry
At 23:41 on 28 July 2020, Trevor Noah tweeted that the Daily Show team were nominated for 6 Emmy awards this year. The tweet received considerable attention over the last 24 hours with more than 2 300 retweets and over 45 000 likes. In his tweet, Noah expressed appreciation for the nomination and disbelief, saying “Is this even real life?”. South Africans took the opportunity to comment on his tweet about issues back home that they are unhappy about. One responder asked for the “son of Patricia” to please help as the ANC comrades are looting COVID-19 relief funds. Others commented on how scruffy Trevor looks in the tweet as he hasn’t been able to get a haircut.
Actress Candy Moloi, who was best known for her role on Muvhango, has passed away. #ripcandymoloi trended as the fifth most popular hashtag for the day. @PhilMphela tweeted their condolences saying that Candy Moloi was a SAFTA winner and the mother of actress Lerato Moloi. This tweet was retweeted close to 600 times and it received more than 2 700 likes.
The song Jerusalema still has people talking as it continues to grow in popularity both locally and overseas. At 18:38, @casspernyovest tweeted, “Master KG and Jerusalema has more hype than the Samas. Im sure they must be pissed off cause they knew what they were doing was foul and God said, NOT WITH MY CHILD!!!! He elevated him even further!!!!” This post has been retweeted more than 4 000 times and has received close to 27 000 likes.
Stories about Zimbabwe trended in the second half of the day within the topic “home”. This topic included a tweet about the alleged abduction of Human rights defender Otilia Sibanda. The tweet explains that “She was dragged from the house and forced into an unregistered, blue Honda Fit. The second car used by the abductors was a Toyota Platz. Spread the word.” The post has been retweeted more than 500 times and has received more than 600 likes. Another popular tweet within the topic “home” yesterday related to the state of the health care system in Zimbabwe. On 28 July 2020, @DMagombeyi tweeted an image of a hospital white board with the text, “Out of 8 pregnant women, only one went home smiling. (Today, Harare Hospital) That 0/10 in red means NO LIFE (1st frame) and those green clothes are covering dead bodies of newborn babies.” This post has been retweeted close to 2 000 times and has received around an equal number of likes. The twitter account holder who posted the image goes on to say that this could have been avoided but the leaders instead chose to loot.
On a lighter note, a rapper in Zimbabwe named Awa Khiwe posted a video to Twitter that related to a song that she is about to release. The video has been viewed more than 169 000 times and it has been retweeted close to 8 000 times.
A few faith-based posts trended throughout the day. At 15:00, @stevenfurtick tweeted, “God is not intimidated by your issues.” This post has been retweeted more than 3 300 times and it has received over 15 000 likes.
At 20:36, @cupsofcha tweeted that “Arafah is tomorrow” and that fasting on this day absolves your sins for 2 years, the past one and the one coming. This post was retweeted more than 600 times and it received more than 1 700 likes.
The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation based at UCTs Graduate School of Business and incubated by the Allan Gray Centre for Values-Based Leadership. It was established to track and counter mis- and disinformation, fake news and divisive and polarising rhetoric that is promulgated online to undermine social cohesion, democratic integrity, and the stability of nation states.