South Africa


South Africa’s 24-hour trends report

South Africa’s 24-hour trends report
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde is screened before entering a K-Way factory that has been turned over to making masks for the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo: Western Cape Government/Wikipedia)

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 8 July 2020. Global trends impacting on South Africa are also included.

Going public


As South Africa’s Covid-19 caseload rises, more people are declaring in public that they have contracted the coronavirus, providing a stark reminder that nobody is immune. 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde tweeted that he had tested positive, and would work from his home and self-isolate for two weeks. His video was viewed about 64,000 times, and the tweet received over 1,600 likes by this morning. 

Deputy Chairperson of the ANC in Kwazulu-Natal, Mike Mabuyakhulu, reportedly collapsed in the party’s office and was admitted to ICU. It was suspected he had contracted the virus, according to a tweet by @samkelemaseko that was retweeted almost 800 times. eNCA reported that ANC KZN spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu had died due to complications relating to Covid-19. 

Government’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus have come under scrutiny by politicians and Twitter users. 

@SundayTimesZA shared their article about DA leader John Steenhuisen’s views on the ruling party’s response to the pandemic. The tweet, which was liked 300 times and retweeted almost 100 times, says that President Cyril Ramaphosa has been a mere spectator in the country’s fight against the pandemic, and that the opposing faction within the ANC is exploiting his weak position in the party. 

EFF member @MbuyiseniNdlozi also doled out the criticism: “African National Criminal are unashamedly looting funds meant to save people’s lives from the Covid-19 scourge. How much destruction must ANC cause in this country before we all wake up to push out of power? Everywhere they are; it’s about their immediate, petty self-interests!” This tweet was liked over 2,500 times and retweeted over 500 times. 

A tweet by eNCA that was retweeted 2,300 times said the Gauteng government was preparing over one million graves for the anticipated death toll due to Covid-19. In response, @Sentletse tweeted, “Gauteng ANC has issued a tender for 1 million graves. 😂 These crooks!” This tweet was liked almost 1,000 times by early today.

Some South African citizens and businesses appear to be taking things into their own hands. “Borders are closed” was a top topic, following tweets about taxi body Santaco closing the border in the Free State and stopping buses from moving workers between SA and Lesotho. The announcement of this action by Santaco was liked over 1,000 times. 

@MmusiMaimane posted a call for a national stayaway from schools, given the rising rate of infections and the risks to learners, staff and their families. His tweet was liked almost 950 times and retweeted over 300 times. 

@mzwandileMasina suggested that alcohol should be banned again in the Eastern Cape due to the rising rate of infections. The tweet was liked over 1,500 times.

Meanwhile, South African hospitals and engineers at the University of Johannesburg have developed a ventilator that can be produced on a 3D printer, according to a tweet by @news24.

Racial posturing

Wednesday’s  trend report featured posts from the Tracey Zille Twitter profile, along with responses from other Twitter users. Over the last 24 hours, a post from this account appeared again under the top three trends. 

At 15:56 Tracey Zille posted images of a mega church and tweeted, “What you see here is churches built by poor Black people in Africa from their own pockets. Instead of building Black Malls, Schools & Factories like China and Japan, Blacks are building churches to pray for jobs. @TraceyZille  #traceyzille”. This post received more than 900 retweets and comments, along with more than 2,000 likes. 

@me_siviwe tweeted a compilation of posts by Tracey Zille. The tweet read, “Love her or hate her but has Tracy Zille told a single lie?” The tweet has received more than 1,800 retweets and comments. @whodatgurrlll responded to this tweet saying, “This Tracy Zille person is speaking like Jesus was born in Germany or something, he was born in Bethlehem in the Middle East. Making him a brown-skinned Middle Eastern Jew. European whitened Jesus so that they can dominate African minds.” @bhekisth replied, “That black person must stop hiding behind a white woman’s name then we will take her seriously.”

Later on 07 July, @mlodi_lodder tweeted, “The way black people hate the truth they now want to find a way to deligitimize her statements. Whether she is white or black doesn’t matter oksalayo o bolela nnete #tracyzille.” This post received close to 200 retweets and comments and it has attracted more than 1,800 likes.

The top post by reach was tweeted by @Advovolicious – it reached more than half a million people. As theories around the identity of the person behind the Tracey Zille account flourished, @Advovolicious tweeted: “I wonder if the person behind #tracyzille will continue to misbehave on twitter even though his identity has been revealed by twitter csi, putting his life and his family at risk just for likes, retweets and traffic to his website. Sizokhe sibone! Twitter is a dangerous platform.”

Under fire

@thabomoetji tweeted that he would vote for Herman Mashaba in the next elections because he was tired of giving the ANC a chance.

@KamvelihleGoba posted a tweet directed at the Presidency: “Cyril Ramaphosa will go down as the worst President to ever plunder this country. A man who presides over looting of billions during a crises. Who presides over the worst youth unemployment. Who presides over the most unequal & violent society on earth. Cyril Ramaphosa must go!” This tweet received more than 250 retweets and comments. 

@DjNewAfrica tweeted: “We removed Zuma to clean out corruption but according to the auditor general, wasteful expenditure has reached an all time high under Ramaphosa’s administration.” 

Another child raped

A three-year-old girl was allegedly raped by her stepfather, according to several tweets, including one by @CathyMohlahlana. She tweeted, “A man allegedly rapes and assaults a 3-year-old little girl, leaves her with broken hands, and the police let him out of prison. He gets to sleep in his bed, while she’s in hospital recovering. That’s what’s wrong with this country. My heart 💔💔💔💔”. The tweet was liked over 8,500 times and retweeted over 5,000 times. Another tweet by @Sipha_Kema shared images of the child’s broken hands. The tweet was shared widely, and drove nearly all the volume in this conversation, with over 12,000 mentions.

Xenophobia growing

Conversations with afrophobic and xenophobic undertones, and in some cases aggressive overtones, drove significant volumes on social media. 

@BlessingsRamoba tweeted: “What will shock you is that, not only are all Zimbabwean citizens flocking to SA for a better life, but even their Cabinet Ministers in government and their President, they all have houses in Sandton here in South Africa. They have destroyed their own country and left it in ruins.” This tweet generated 810 retweets and 2,100 likes.

Later that day, @uLerato_pillay tweeted: “We won’t surrender our Country to Foreigners, no amount of threats will stop us from reclaiming our Country. The @MYANC  can go to hell #PutSouthAfricansFirst”. This received 206 retweets and 536 likes. 

There were many others like this that gained a lot of traction.

Some Twitter users suggested that South Africans were misinformed and have directed their anger towards the wrong people. Earlier this week, @JimmyRamokgopa shared this comment: “26 years later, black South Africans are fighting foreign nationals for white people to hire them. If you don’t see what’s wrong with this, you need to think a little harder about the problem. Black people are the majority. They should be the ones doing the hiring here.” This tweet received 254 retweets and 555 likes

@BlackCulture_HM shared an image of looting carried out by white men at Eskom: “While you are busy with madness #PutSouthAfricansFirst white people are looting the resources of this republic wena you are fighting tooth out you wanna clean toilets.” This generated 293 retweets and 394 likes.  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.

Note: Many of the issues that trend online include distasteful hate speech. Some of the vitriol is republished selectively, here, in order to reflect.  the trends online. Daily Maverick dissociates itself from these sentiments.


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