South Africa’s 24-hour trends report
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 7 July 2020. Global trends impacting on South Africa are also included.
A recently opened Twitter account – which has 890 followers but follows only 11 other profiles – drove conversation around the topic “Black lives” in the past 24 hours. The controversial tweets on this account have received much attention on Twitter as users try to understand the motives of the account holder.
The Tracy Zille Twitter profile began posting with a dig at Pastor Bushiri, tweeting that: “Fools in SA pay R7,000 for a one on one prayer with this guy from Malawi.” A race debate began within the comments almost immediately, with one Twitter account user calling her racist. Responding to this comment, @Harry_shuf exclaimed, “Brainwashed, how could this woman be a racist while telling you the truth?”.
The Tracy Zille tweet that drove conversation asked Twitter users: “Where is the Black Lives Matter group? Your own Black Lives do not matter right here in South Africa but you were all over our nerves on Twitter screaming Black Lives Matter.” This post was retweeted close to 200 times. @Dee_princ3ss responded to the tweet: “One would say you are a fan of back people. The obsession you have with black people it’s just too wow, you spend a lot of time digging up about black people than they do for themselves. U bitter sis and you really need to heal.” @sbomashobane commented, “There’s a black skin under this fake account!”, which received around 80 likes.
Earlier this week, the Tracy Zille account had posted images of brown-skinned females in white wedding dresses: “This is not a White Wedding. It is a European Traditional Wedding for White people. This is our traditional wedding. The question to Black people is WHY DO YOU SPEND SO MUCH MONEY TO BE LIKE WHITES? African wedding & European Wedding wearing White people’s hair. #CoconutsMustFall.” This post has been retweeted close to 300 times.
These posts elicited three types of responses: some called the account holder a racist, remarking on the name and image used, of the profile as well as the image used, which is that of a white woman, others felt that the tweets reflected the truth and should be considered regardless of the race of the person tweeting, and many questioned the authenticity of the account holder.
As retweets of Tracy Zille’s posts grew during the day, more Twitter account holders became aware of the profile and began sharing their opinions. Two tweets found it interesting that whoever held the account felt that they needed to create a profile as a white person to be heard by black South Africans.
@tsoeutsukulu tweeted: “It doesn’t matter if #tracyzille is Black or White, you don’t take your own people serious that’s why people create such accounts to engage with y’all cause you only take white people serious. How many Black people are saying the same thing but we ignore them.”
At 20:31 in the evening @naledimashishi tweeted: “If the black men behind accounts like Tracy Zille were ‘speaking the truth’ they wouldn’t need to hide their identities behind accounts of white women to say them. I really wish people would think about these things for more than 5 mins.” This post was retweeted over 100 times and received just over 200 likes. @NthabiLeTruth responded: “They don’t care, that’s because the catfish says things they can’t say with their chests, it tickles their fantasy.”
Discourse on socio-economic inequality and the unaffordability of higher education drove significant conversation, with the topic trending by volume and burst.
Many expressed concern about the difficult process of acquiring funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). @ZiggyMase tweeted: “Some people are so lucky. Getting NSAFAS just for vibes. Do you know how hard it is to get NSFAS. Jumping from affidavit to affidavit trying to prove how poor you are just so you could be funded.” This tweet generated 835 retweets and 3,400 likes.
@thandozuma_ chastised NSFAS applicants who were not in financial need. The tweet read: “Rich kids applying for NSFAS when they can afford is them practising to steal in the future like their parents qha.” This tweet soon gained traction with 1,300 retweets and 5,500 likes.
Later in the day @LithembaNziweni tweeted: “Okay, I get that NSFAS maybe needs to be a little stricter on doing background checks on applicants. But what we’re NOT going to do is act like majority of South Africans can afford Uni. Both parents could be working, and you still could not afford Uni – that’s the reality.” This tweet received 504 retweets and 1,400 likes.
Following the conversation around university funding and unaffordability, many users raise questions around privilege – specifically the culture of apathy among the privileged. On Monday 06 July 2020, Twitter user @beloved_sechele shared a tweet that gained significant traction the following day. The tweet read, “I hate it when people say ‘my parents worked hard for us to have this life’ as if other people’s parents don’t work hard. Growth is when you realise that ‘hard work’ is not enough for you to be comfortable, in a historically oppressive, greatly capitalistic country.” This generated 2,200 retweets and 7,200 likes.
Other social media users shared their childhood experiences. @Bongs_Mdu tweeted: “The rich kids at my primary school would come to class with a DStv guide to show us what we’re missing out on.” This received 1,400 retweets and 4,400 likes. @kay_mahapa tweeted, “I stopped arguing with rich kids the day one IEB matriculant said “it’s not my fault my parents were making money while yours were starting struggle songs”. This tweet received 4,100 retweets and 13,400 likes.
Some users implied that the wealth of “rich kids” was accumulated by corrupt parents. @NkosiYummy tweeted: “EC rich kids can’t even pull off a convoy cause their parents looted the money for the roads they’re supposed to have.” This gained traction with 2,500 retweets and 4,800 likes.
Despite last week’s repeated calls for urgent action against GBV, conversation on the topic waned on Twitter in recent days, until a horrific attack on a two-year-old child raised the issue again.
“Raped while in isolation” trended as tweets reporting the rape drove mentions.
@AdvoBarryRoux tweeted: “A 2 year old was raped while in isolation at Dr George Mukhari academic hospital”, which was retweeted almost 700 times. @RobynPorteous expressed anger, frustration and despair: “A 2-year-old child has been raped while in isolation at a hospital in Pretoria and I am crying in my car at work because how many more women’s and children’s bodies have to serve as nightmarish crime scenes before something will fucking change?!” The tweet was liked over 7,000 times and retweeted over 5,500 times.
Many replies expressed dismay and shock at the fact this could happen at a hospital while the victim was in isolation as a result of Covid-19.
@RamaboduObakeng announced that the Tshwane EFF would go to the hospital to “demand answers”. The tweet was retweeted by @TshwaneEFF and 80 others, with replies expressing confidence in the EFF’s ability to determine what happened.
Many renewed calls for men to take a stand followed. @RobynPorteous followed her earlier tweet with this angry tweet: “We have a MALE violence problem and I’m not going to sit here and try to fucking convince men about it any more. Just like systemic racism, the rot runs deeper than the individual – and it has to fucking stop!!”. This was followed by “Men, you don’t get to sit back and expect applause because you haven’t raped or assaulted someone in your life time – that should be the norm! And until things change, you don’t get to absolve yourself of any responsibility in addressing the problem. The MALE VIOLENCE problem”. This thread was retweeted almost 400 times and liked almost 800 times.
This conversation coincides with the latest development in the Jeffrey Epstein case, who allegedly groomed and sexually assaulted countless young women in the US. A tweet by @chrisbeffa reported that Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s girlfriend, has been moved to the same prison that Epstein was held in. The tweet was liked over 170,000 times globally.
Late former Burkina Faso president, Thomas Sankara, trended as people reflected on his leadership. Africa Fact Zones posted, “In 4 years, Thomas Sankara Built 350 schools, roads, railways without foreign aid, Increased literacy rate by 60%, Banned forced marriages, Gave poor people land, Vaccinated 2.5 million kids, Planted 10 million trees, Drove out French imperialism & withdrew Burkina Faso from the IMF.”
The tweet received over 26,800 likes, 11,200 retweets and 469 comments with people commending his leadership and questioning why great leaders of Africa were not included in school curricula in African schools. Mpilwenhle tweeted, “School system is wrong for not teaching us about this great leader we were always fed abo hitler.”
The World Publicist also shared a thread based on Thomas Sankara’s four- year presidency term and his accomplishments. The tweet read: “Thomas Sankara increased Burkina Faso’s literacy rate from 13% in 1983 to 73% in 1987. He lived in a small house and only had $350 when he died. He vaccinated 2.5 million children & banned Polygamy. He sold the Government’s fleet of Mercedes Benz & made Renault 5 Ministers cars.” The tweet received 3,000 likes and 775 retweets.
Other conversations relating to politics in Africa were less celebratory, with Zimbabwe’s largest labour union gearing up to stage a protest next week against the poor economy.
Brezh Malaba tweeted: “BREAKING: Zimbabwe’s largest labour movement, the ZCTU, will declare a general strike beginning next week. ZCTU president Peter Mutasa says the exact dates will be announced shortly. Workers have been reduced to slaves in a tattered economy & must now defend their rights, he adds.” The tweet received 1,000 likes and 395 retweets.
@DeadPool commented on the state of Zimbabwe: “Protests must start now, we are dying, we’re hungry, we got no jobs, yet we have resources and capacity to change our situation. The military is standing on the way. Protest must separate military from zanupf, criminals from civilians, until then, we won’t go home.”
Africa Facts Zone tweeted that South Africa has been ranked Africa’s second most powerful country in the 2020 Best Countries Rankings. Twitter users seemed unimpressed by the news, questioning why citizens of a top country were struggling. The tweet received over 3,000 likes and 732 retweets.
Meanwhile, @Vivi Mpikashe tweeted that the ANC Must Fall campaign should have started a long time ago to curb the high corruption in the country: “A ZumaMustFall was a grand occasion at outrageous corruption. We shot the bird in a nest. The nest that generates corruption must be obliterated. ANC MustFall campaign should have started a long time. Rise SA, rise.” The tweet received 46 likes and 18 retweets.
“BREAKING: Trump Administration formally withdraws the US from the World Health Organisation”, tweeted the Spectator Index. The tweet received over 14,000 likes, 6,000 retweets and 423 comments. Comments were divided between support for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and support for the Trump Administration.
@Winter_Goonerette commented that the WHO was a useless organisation, while @EIDiabloRoboc responded: “Quite the contrary. Their constant efforts prevent most of these diseases to reach developed countries like the USA.”
As many South Africans become personally affected by Covid-19, a thread by @LonahSimakuhle on managing the virus at home gained significant traction. The thread documented how her family managed the Covid-19 virus. The main tweet was liked almost 10,000 times and retweeted over 6,000 times. DM
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.