South Africa


South Africa’s 24-hour trend report – 28 April 2020

South Africa’s 24-hour trend report – 28 April 2020
Clinical staff have been raising their concerns over a lack of personal protection equipment in state hospitals in the Eastern Cape. MEC for Health Sindiswa Gomba said they were discussing the possibility of sending all but absolutely essential workers home if the crisis gets worse so that they have enough equipment to protect their clinical staff. (Photo: Chanel Retief)

This is a summary of themes and narratives trending in South African social media on 28 April 2020.


As nurses in the Eastern Cape protested against the shortage of protective equipment, Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba’s handling of Covid-19 in the province led to calls for her resignation on Twitter. 

When MECs updated Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in a Zoom briefing, MEC Gomba abruptly ended her update with andidikwe, meaning “I am fed up”. The MEC has since apologised to Dr Mkhize, saying her unmuted comment referred to her uncomfortable clothing. 

Twitter had a field day: #andidikwe trended and @daz_inc_ left Twitter in stitches: “I feel MEC Gomba’s pain. You get put in a position just to meander and eat money next thing there’s a global pandemic and you actually have to do work. Ndingadikwa nam!”.

After Madagascar used “Artemisia annua” (sweet wormwood) to develop a Covid-19 treatment, South Africans want to leverage our own traditional herbal knowledge to fight the virus. 

@DjNewAfrica tweeted: “In SA we have ‘Artemisia afra’ which is known as African wormwood, or Umhlonyane in Nguni & Lengana in Sotho”.“Lenana” trended on social media as one of the largest conversations by volume. Enterprising @Leboneels didn’t miss a beat: “Mzantsi just say it I’m ready to supply #Lengana”. 

@youdid007 wrote: “Madagascar’s prime minister is fighting coronavirus with lengana while here in Bloem our premier wants us to hold a mass prayer, how ironic of her.”

The WHO maintains there is no official cure for Covid-19. 

The arrival of Cuban doctors in South Africa was widely celebrated on Freedom Day, but many are now asking why local doctors are not being deployed.

It became one of the day’s top trending topics. Dr Mkhize defended the decision,  saying South Africa owed a huge debt to Cuba for continuous healthcare support, including training the latest crop of 700 South African students: “I want to assure everyone that the Cuban doctors will not take anyone’s place. They will work alongside our doctors.”

Mkhize said National Treasury had now agreed that all frozen posts for doctors would be filled and asked local doctors to apply.


Nando’s cheeky ad campaigns have entertained South Africa through the lockdown. The latest humour is about Liquideep, a soul and house duo from Johannesburg behind several number one tracks. 

“Liquideep – A#Lockdown Album

BBM: “Her status says she’s staying at home”

Alone: “You gon’ have to be at home”

Still: “I will love you ’til stage 5 stands still”.

The tweet delighted Twitter users and was the top topic of the day. Nando’s acknowledged the positive response: “We’ll give you a shout out when we win our awards!”

The lockdown has seen South Africans band together to organise community action networks and support struggling artists online.

The day’s top tweet by reach was about South Africans coming together to help find a missing person. @MonyakiPalesa’s tweeted: “Hey Guys please help find Msindisi Phike. He was last seen on Sunday 3pm, his from Bloem in Bochabela. Should anyone know anything please contact the number on the picture. Please RT for awareness. Thank you in advance.”

 The appeal was retweeted 3,200 times.

Twitter celebrated UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng for donating part of her salary to the fight against Covid-19.  @moreki_mo said: “Guys you know Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng @UCT_VC, the VC of UCT already donates 10% of her salary to fund students at UCT right? She has furthermore cut her salary by 20% (30% in total) as a donation towards Covid-19 Fund at UCT. God bless you abundantly Prof Phakeng.” Twitter users thanked Prof Phakeng for her warm and giving heart.  

Twitter also celebrated Queen Solo, Africa’s first Netflix show, for signing on a second season, with production expected to begin this year.

Entertainment commentator @PhilMphela’s tweet was one of the largest in reach, with fans congratulating @PearnThusi and the Queen Solo team. 

With many people taking to social media to connect with friends and family during lockdown, mental health professionals have warned that too much engagement on social media can be detrimental. DM

The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation incubated at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. The CABC stimulates positive social change through engagement, dialogue and advocacy.


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