The week in social media | 01 – 06 July 2020

Every day we observe, dissect and analyse the news and information driving the conversations around the week’s most topical issues on social media. These are the highlights you should know about. Remember we quote tweets verbatim so any grammar or spelling mistakes are as they appear in the tweet.

Let’s go July!

Positivity gets retweets too

With the start of a new month, some Twitter users seem inspired by the idea of a fresh start. “I love the first day of a new month. They always feel like a whole opportunity to start again . i hope the month of july is…”tweeted Dineo. The tweet received over 9 200 likes and 2 100 retweets.

Tamuda Bianca shared a hopeful tweet for July “Happy New Month I hope that you will receive unexpected blessings, experience constant growth, receive love, have inner peace, be in good health and most importantly, draw closer to God.” The tweet received 212 likes and 87 retweets.

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, affectionately known as Fab Academic shared her accomplishment on Twitter, commemorated her second year at the University with the tweet, “Today I celebrate 2yrs as VC of UCT. 3 successes stand out:Student suicides are no longer a thing. Out of 10 senior leadership appointments I made, 8 are black & 2 white. For the first time in 2020 UCT now leads Africa in ALL of the 5 major world university rankings. #Grateful”. The tweet received over 16 300 likes, 2 900 retweets and 553 comments, with users congratulating her for her achievements and the changes she has implemented at the University.

Personal accounts of the impact of Covid-19

Many people have shared their personal experiences of the pandemic on Twitter. @qhamile[shared]( shocking account. The tweet was liked over 3 000 times and retweeted over 1 500 times.

@jessismoree called on people to stop peer pressuring friends who decline to go somewhere because of COVID-19. The tweet was liked over 300 000 times globally.

Closer to home, Cassper Nyovest sent “prayers to all the entertainers during this tough time” and advised people not to be afraid to cut down. His tweet was liked almost 17 000 times and retweeted over 2 200 times.


Shonisani Lethole, 35, died at Tembisa Hospital after being admitted with breathing difficulties. On Thursday, 25 June, Shonisani had tweeted Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, telling him of the mistreatment at the hospital and that he had not eaten for 48 hours.

This story had over 11 000 mentions on Twitter, and a petition calling on government to “fix Tembisa hospital” received 17 000 signatures by the 4th of July. Mmabatho Montsho joined the call and her tweet reached over 285 000 eyeballs. The story reaffirmed that the South African public healthcare system is in crisis and woefully unfit to deal with a pandemic.

Vusi Thembekwayo says it like it is – fed up with the corruption

The government has been criticised regularly over the current state of the economy and the national response to the COVID pandemic. Public figure and renowned businessman, Vusi Thembekwayo released a scathingvideoon Facebook last week criticising the government for the effects of the lockdown.

The video was later tweeted by @HermanMashaba, whose tweet was liked almost 16 000 times. Over the weekend, @Vusithembekwayo urged all to, “pray… And when you’re finished praying, DO SOMETHING”. The tweet was liked almost 15 000 times and was retweeted over 4 500 times.

@kgadiRsaexpressedthat he joins Vusi Thembekwayo in saying “F! you” to the politicians. This tweet was also liked over 1 200 times and was retweeted 340 times.

@BlessingsRamoba’s tweet, which received almost 1000 likes and 315 retweets, expressed that South Africans need a corruption vaccine to treat ANC Corruption, noting that, “The ANC’s corruption virus is killing the nation. Our people have waited for 26 years for economic freedom, but it’s not coming”.

@LoneStarSkye [shared]( a similar sentiment that ANC prioritises holding onto power and looting over bettering the lives of black South Africans. This tweet was liked over 300 times.

Making moola and worried about the economy

Ways to make money was a popular topic on Twitter over the first weekend of July. There were a number of posts promoting small businesses that drove volume under one of the top 10 topics, “day”, which had over 83 000 mentions.

@Tsheg0_ shared details on how to order eggs from their business, and @nikisgingerbeer shared a similar post. Both posts received over 100 likes.

@iamkoshiek shared an informative thread on the SA residential property market in the current economic climate, which included advice on property prices and financing options. The thread was liked over 6 000 times and retweeted almost 3 500 times.

Another trend gaining momentum is WhatsApp Stokvels. There were many scattered mentions, an example of which includes an invitation to join, posted by @dineonestaSA. The tweet received just 83 likes, with many replies calling it a scam. @AdvoBarryRoux also tweeted a “good morning” post mentioning the phenomenon. The tweet, which was liked over 2 000 times, notes that people who got scammed by WhatsApp Stokvels deserved it because they were forewarned.

The Xenophobia Conversation

A snapshot of the highest trending topics revealed that “South Africans” was the third most popular topic of discussion. Within this topic, conversation was driven by tweets that expressed an anti-Nigerian sentiment along with calls to #PutSouthAfricansFirst.

Anti-Nigerian sentiment

At 21:58 on 04 July 2020, @masentleNEO[tweeted,](“There is no south African owning spaza shop in Somalia..There is no south African occupied Lagos selling drugs like Nigerians in Johannesburg. It must come to an end Johannesburg is for south Africans not evil Nigerians feeding our kids with drugs”. The post has been retweeted over 300 times and has received more than 800 likes.

Responding to the tweet, @law1920commented,“But no one prevent you to do the same to their countries. Those kids no one force them to use drugs, they are just addicted like people with alcohol, why don’t you blame liquor stores for selling alcohol? Even South Africans themselves are selling drugs, don’t you see it?” They weretold to, “stop defending nonsense wena Satan”. Another personcommented thatwe need to address drug usage first because people regardless of the nationality will continue to sell drugs if there is a demand for them.

On Sunday 05 July 2020, @Mudzuthabe tweeted, “When foreigners kill South Africans, the South African government protects these criminals #PutSouthAfricansFirst #NigeriansMustFutsek #InfluxOfImmigrantsMustStop”. @nkulusyamukela responded to with, “Can u imagine how South African lives have been ruined through Nigerian nyaope along. Not a city, town or village is without nyaope addicts. Families have been torn apart & destroyed. We are talking MILLIONS of South Africans! #NigeriansMustGo #NigeriansMustFutsek!”. Combined, these tweets received 54 retweets and just over 100 likes. While the reach of this post is not as significant as other large volume driving posts, it is an example of voluminous tweets that expressed anti-Nigerian sentiment over the weekend.

Put South Africans first

PutSouthAfricansFirst has trended again within the conversation of jobs being reserved for South Africans first. On 04 July 2020 at 10:49, uLeratoPillay [tweeted,]( “The ANC Government warns against inciting violance against Foreigners, According to the Government those who say #PutSouthAfricansFirst wil be arrested because South Africans are not supposed to voice their concerns. be ready for harassment”.

This tweet was accompanied by images of a press release that uLerato explains was made by Phumla Williams on 03 July 2020. In the statement, Williams, who is the Director General of Government Communications and Information Systems, advises that they are aware of a poster on social media that has been making rounds and inciting violence against foreign nationals. She called on law enforcement to take the necessary action should people be found spreading this type of hatred online.

Then, at 11:52, @Lungah_ tweeted, “South Africans have never known what it’s like to have a government that works for you. It was apartheid and straight after that we’ve had the ANC government who’s incompetence and corruption has been astounding and now we are forced to accommodate millions of illegal foreigners.” This post was retweeted close to 150 times. The comments that followed were mostly around the failure of the ANC government to put structures place that advance the quality of life for poor South Africans.

RIP Mary Twala

The passing of South African legendary actress, Mary Twala, dominated social media conversations over the weekend. Many, including government officials and celebrities, shared messages of condolences. At 5:41 PM on Saturday 04 July 2020, President @CyrilRamaphosa tweeted, “Like millions of South Africans, I am saddened by the passing of a great icon of our nation’s creative community; someone who was a household name and face to all of us and brought home the joys, the struggles and the humour under pressure that characterises our national life.” This gained traction with 2 800 retweets and 25 600 likes. A few minutes later, at 5:43 PM, President @CyrilRamaphosa shared photographs of himself with Mary Twala alongside a message which read, “We have lost a unique talent and an endearing human being whose performances brought to life the meaning of being South African, and appealed to South Africans of all generations. We will miss her dearly. #RIPMaryTwala”. This received 1 500 retweets and 12 100 likes. On that same day, Minister of Transport @MbalulaFikile, shared photographs of Mary Twala receiving an award from President Ramaphosa in a tweet that read, “A legend, South Africa greatest treasure & The Order of Ikhamanga in SILVER holder for excellent contribution to the performing arts & awareness on women’s health issues. Mme Mary Twala’s departure makes us poorer. Condolences to @somizi & the entire family. A giant has fallen.” This generated 1 000 retweets and 10 400 likes.

Entertainment channel @Mzansimagic tweeted, “The legendary Mama Mary Twala made the impossible possible and inspired many. You may have left the world but your work will live forever. Lala Ngoxolo. #RIPMaryTwala”. This received 429 retweets and 3 800 likes. On the same day, artist @LadyZamar [tweeted](, “RIP to a South African actor of of the most vibrant spirits who made herself memorable in her life and all she chose to share with us.. she was a gift to the world. Deepest condolences to @somiziand your whole family.. Mama Mary Twala world never be forgotten”. This post got 135 retweets and 2 000 likes.

Many fans paid tribute by sharing some of their favourite Mary Twala moments. Twitter user, @ThatoTshepiso1 shared a video depicting Mary Twala dancing with Lillian Dube in a tweet that read, “She’ll remain my favorite❤may your soul rest in peace mama Twala. #RIPMaryTwala”. This received 203 retweets and 838 likes. On the same day, @SothoBae shared photographs of Mary Twala in a post that read, “A legend has fallen… May your soul rest in peace. #RIPMaryTwala”. This generated 426 retweets and 3 400 likes.

New week – new positive vibes 06 July

We’ve noticed a trend on social media and it’s a good one: the beginning of each week is usually filled with some positive Twitter commentary, with users wishing each other a blessed week and sharing words of motivation. The self-love narratives were mostly driven by “love” under top tops by volume with over 35 000 mentions, “God” under top topics by volume with over 21 000 mentions, and “family” under burst with over 12 000 mentions.

“Get in loser. We’re going to have a good week,” tweeted Naledi Sibisi as a new week began. The tweet received over 4 700 likes and 1 700 retweets, with one user responding, “I decree and declare!”

God bless you

Posts mentioning God received much attention on Twitter. Thuthuka Mthembu’s tweet “Good Morning!! My Friends. God Bless you,” received 1 400 likes and 168 retweets.

Portia Gumede shareda motivational tweet declaring her faith in God:

Mr Oluwayimika Q. Wale thanked the people who assisted him in raising money for his son’s medical treatment. From the thread it appears that his son may have developed hydrocephalus (fluid in the brain). He tweeted,“SAVE A SOUL !!!!!! HELP RETWEET .350,000 naira has been received from the post I made yesterdaymay God bless you all as you help completethis it is remainingjust680,000 naira. I am crying, a father of a boy that is undergoing a painful time in his very young life”. The thread received 103 likes and 589 retweets.

Love yourself and love others

The feel-good energy continued throughout the day, as Sipho_Says took to Twitter to remind people to practice self-care. The tweet received 1 200 likes and 477 likes.

Nomzamo Mbatha reminded people of their self-worth, “Always remember your worth. Even when you compromise it. Find your way back home, to yourself. For your Self”. The tweet received over 9 600 likes, 2 400 retweets and 59 comments, with a follower, Wesi, responding, “@NomzamoMbatha thank you so much for this reminder. God knows this is what I needed.”

The Twitter movement, ‘Love lives here’ also shared some love advice for those seeking love and those in love. @Cravelusts tweeted, “Fall in love with someone who wants you, who waits for you. Who understands you even in the madness; someone who helps you, and guides you, someone who is your support, your hope. Fall in love with someone who talks with you after a fight.” The tweet received over 187 000 likes and 60 600 retweets and 303 comments. One Twitter user, @LNeltilizitli replied that love starts with oneself, “Fall in love with yourself the rest comes easy..”. This received 505 likes and 83 retweets. Mpoomy Ledwaba reflected on her relationship with her partner Brendan Praise and their relationship journey, “I remember our conversations when @Brenden_Praise and got serious whiledating. We would day dream about our life, our family, a daughter first then a son as a second born. All those conversations have become a reality”. The tweet received over 9 300 likes, 816 retweets and 138 comments, with Twitter followers praising and congratulating the young couple on their marriage and the birth of their baby.

Issued by the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change.

See for daily reports. A deep analysis on any of these issues is available on request.

About CABC

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.

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