Power to the tweeple as DA hosts another Twitter Town Hall meeting

By Carien Du Plessis 29 August 2011

Less than four months after the local elections, the DA has again started its popular Twitter Town Hall meetings, and the tweeple are curious, with questions ranging from Julius Malema’s disciplinary to “racism” in the DA. CARIEN DU PLESSIS followed the #DAQA.

They started before the elections as a way of engaging with their logged-on voters, and were apparently very successful.

On Sunday night, DA leader Helen Zille (@helenzille) again roped in her team, including party spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko (@lindimazibuko) and party strategist Ryan Coetzee (@ryancoetzee) to answer the couple of hundred tweets that poured in.

According to the DA’s spin, the Twitter Town Hall “provides a unique, engaging and highly personal opportunity to ask the DA any question about South Africa, its people and its politics, and get an immediate response”.

And they lived up to the promise. Questions included what the DA’s view is on ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s impending hearing this week (Zille said it’s all succession politics), what the party thinks of relaxing labour laws (it’s in favour of this), and what its stance is on press regulation following apparently skewed reports on a Western Cape government communications tender (Coetzee: “We believe the press should self regulate. We don’t believe in state regulations. And there is the constitution…”).

It wasn’t all smooth. Zille got impatient with @unathikondile’s persistent and critical questions (“I am busy answering important questions from people who are serious about the future”) and one of @alexlansdowne’s great concerns was why #DAQA, #DAQA, #DAQA (etc) wasn’t trending in South Africa.

Zille’s account at some point couldn’t handle the “huge volume” and slowed down while @paulachowles tweeted: “Not sure if 140 characters lends itself to any substantial debate but nice way to make yourself accessible”.

It’s likely that we’ll see a lot more of these meetings, as Coetzee said the party’s 2014 election campaign was “in advanced stage and already being actioned”. DM



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