Conversations about lockdown regulations, unemployment, poverty and poor governance gained attention on social media yesterday as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to amplify social tensions arising from entrenched inequality. These issues trended by volume, burst and reach yesterday.
Moments before the virtual presidential imbizo started, @CyrilRamaphosa shared this message on Twitter: “Looking forward to a fruitful engagement with fellow South Africans tuning in to this evening’s Imbizo on #coronavirus via their local community radio stations, news channels and participating via social media. #PresidentialImbizo.” The tweet generated 385 likes and set off a barrage of criticism.
Earlier, social media was flooded with frustration over the latest lockdown regulations. The EFF’s @MbuyiseniNdlozi tweeted: “You cannot call for schools to close & leave everything else open – it will be futile. SA MUST SHUTDOWN &: – all workers must get 3 months payment holiday. – feeding schemes must deliver food to children at home. – all businesses that close must get payment holiday from rent/bonds.” This tweet quickly gained traction, with over 1,400 retweets and 5,800 likes by this morning.
Other users shared concerns over rising unemployment and economic deterioration. @CaronWilliams_ tweeted: “Three million people have lost their jobs in SA since COVID-19 hit.” (1,200 retweets, 1,600 likes.)
@TholiBSA retweeted an original post by @rodcampsbay which read, “The tourism industry is losing R748 million a day. Well done Cyril!” (366 retweets, 612 likes.)
Some Twitter users acknowledged that job losses were not unique to South Africa. @TholiBSA quoted this with a tweet that read, “There are people who think COVID-19 is only in SA, and it was brought by Cyril.” This was retweeted over 1,000 times and liked 1,800 times by today.
@alfred_cabonena tweeted, “If the ANC survives the next elections, South Africa won’t.” This tweet received 272 retweets and 841 likes. @SimonPGrindrod shared a similar sentiment in a tweet that read, “The ANC does not own our nation. The ANC does not own the State. The ANC is not South Africa. The people of our country deserve better. The ANC must fall before it is too late to salvage a future from the wreck of the present. 🇿🇦” (380 retweets and 1,200 likes.)
@MadiBoity echoed this in a tweet that read, “Dear South Africa, We cannot continue to put the future of this country into the hands of 4,000 ANC delegates, who are bought with alcohol & cash, in deciding who our President is. Therefore, ANC must be fired & vacate office. We need best brains across the board to reboot SA.” This tweet received far more attention, with 916 retweets and over 2,400 likes.
Court steps in
A few weeks ago, a video of Western Cape officials forcibly removing a naked man from his home went viral. @News24 shared a report that the Western Cape High Court has ordered the City of Cape Town to rebuild the Hangberg home of Ginola Phillips within 48 hours, to the same size and specifications of the home they destroyed. The tweet shared by @News24 received over 700 likes and retweets.
Minister of Human Settlements @LindiweSisuluSA tweeted a statement welcoming the court’s judgment. The tweet was liked and retweeted about 200 times.
“Load shedding” was mentioned about 8,000 times on Twitter. @Midstream_MES tweeted information about areas impacted.
@CityofCT announced that, “No load-shedding for City customers today. The City will protect most of its customers from Eskom’s load-shedding today. Eskom customers will unfortunately be shed at Stage 1.” None of these tweets were shared widely, with @CityofCT’s tweet gaining only 250 likes, retweets and comments.
Mavino Thabo asked Twitter users to assist him in finding a job by retweeting: “Kekopa permanent job in Financial Management or Office Administrator. I hold a national diploma in Financial Management and have 1 year 3 months experience in Financial management and 7 years in Office Administrator. Please retweet. My employer might be on your timeline.” The tweet received 852 retweets, 528 likes and nine comments with people sharing job links.
Meanwhile, Didintle shared her good employment news, “After years of struggling to secure employment, God reminded me today that even in the midst of a storm, He is still faithful. I GOT THE JOB!!!!!” Her tweet received over 26,500 likes, 2,100 retweets and 382 comments filled with congratulatory messages.
Many entrepreneurs took to social media to promote their businesses. Mona Holdings shared their R80 face shield, which received 127 likes, 114 retweets and 31 comments. @Nkulunkukazi promoted her high quality leather accessories business, which specialises in engraved or personalised leather products and received 223 likes, 203 retweets and 42 comments.
“Your mental health, happiness, & existence is a priority,” tweeted Hermaine M. The tweet received 527 likes and 125 retweets, sparking many conversations about managing stress and staying healthy.
Nabela Noor shared: “My therapist taught me this trick. When you feel anxious that someone is mad at you, doesn’t like you or that things are worse than they actually are, ask yourself: ‘Who told you that?’ Typically you won’t have an answer & you’ll learn that it’s all in your head. Pass it on.” The tweet received over 672,600 likes, 233,300 retweets and 1,700 comments.
“Improve your Mental Health
– Eat healthy
– Drink water
– Help someone
– Challenge yourself.”
The tweet received 142 retweets and 259 likes.
Meanwhile, @BTBoekkooi tweeted, “I feel bad for that one molecule of serotonin that has been carrying my mental health through the entirety of 2020.” The tweet received 369 likes and 108 retweets.
Mitchelle Karoro said she found comfort from social media: “Nowadays people from social media comfort us more than people we know in person.” The tweet received over 1,700 likes, 403 retweets and 53 comments.
@Khathu_cheLo responded: “Sometimes it’s because we don’t tell them what we are going through, instead we post about it…”
John Cena, international wrestling star, tweeted, “When times are difficult, often we feel guilty experiencing joy. Allow joy in your life. Joy during such difficulty shouldn’t make you feel guilty. Use it as a way to remain aware of issues, be genuinely grateful for the good you do have and spread that joy to those in need.” The tweet received 38,800 likes, 11,100 retweets and 1,000 comments.
Twitter users reminded each other to value friends and family. @miss_neoentle tweeted, “Guys please fix things with the people you love, apologize where it matters and tell people you love them. Tomorrow isn’t promised.” This tweet was liked and retweeted over 6,000 times.
@Miss_Rodolo encouraged others to acknowledge their parents: “Some of you guys are really blessed yazi. Having parents buy your first cars, being helped out your first year of working and even staying at home with no financial obligations to help your family. I hope y’all don’t take it for granted man.” This tweet was liked and retweeted over 11,400 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.
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