South Africa


South Africa’s 24-hour trends report, 16 July 2020

South Africa’s 24-hour trends report, 16 July 2020
A Twitter user shared a video of EFF MP Naledi Chirwa speaking at a church service with pastor Bushiri (pictured). (Image: Facebook)

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

Conversations around foreign nationals, inadequate resources for the health sector and black identity politics captured the attention of social media users. These issues trended under top topics by volume, burst, reach and impact.

Love thy neighbour? 

Conversations with xenophobic undertones gained significant traction on social media. On 16 July 2020, Twitter user @landback_ shared a video of EFF MP, Naledi Chirwa, speaking at a church sermon with pastor Bushiri. The tweet read, “Must Watch: This is how Naledi Chirwa (a Malawian) made it into our Parliament. Today she is an MP thanks to her fellow Malawian immigrant Pastor Bhushiri. We are losing our country! #PutSouthAfricanFirst #NalediChirwa #SAHomeAffairsCorruption.” This received 386 retweets and 520 likes. 

Chirwa has previously tweeted that her dad is from Malawi and her mom is Zimbabwean, but that she is South African.  

On the same day, @CGFResearch retweeted an original post by former Johannesburg mayor @HermanMashaba from 15 July. The tweet read, “Unapologetically … ” with a picture of a South African flag and contained a 47-second video where Mashaba can be heard saying, “The reality is that South Africa doesn’t have borders.” This tweet generated over 1,800 retweets and 3,900 likes. 

@TracyZille (*see below link) shared a photograph of the new SAA interim CEO alongside the message, “This is the newly hired CEO of SAA. His name is Philip Saunders, he is not from South Africa. The man is from United Kingdom. Where is Put South Africa First and Black Twitter. Ooh sorry only Black People Must Fall and only Africans are foreigners taking your jobs. #tracyzille.” This gained traction with 800 retweets and over 1,700 likes. 

Covid-19: crises and corruption

The Eastern Cape’s health system was described as “an epic failure” in a recent BBC report. A post by @AndrewWJHarding on 15 July gained traction the following day. The tweet contained the BBC article titled, “Inside South Africa’s ‘hospitals of horrors.’” The tweet read, “An epic failure of a deeply corrupt system… Our investigation into Port Elizabeth’s #COVID19 response in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.” This post received 252 retweets and 189 likes. 

Some users argued that the Eastern Cape’s health sector crisis is not receiving enough attention. TV host @PhilMphela tweeted, “Re busy ka #AlcoholFreeSA. There is a health services crisis in the Eastern Cape that is not getting attention. What is happening in EC should be the biggest story of this COVID-19 pandemic hitting South Africa. Not freaken alcohol bans. We lack leadership! #ECHealthCrisis.” This tweet received 65 likes and 175 retweets. 

Conversations about unemployment and job losses received considerable attention. News outlet @News24 shared an article titled, “Millions have lost their jobs during the lockdown, impacting social welfare and food poverty.” The tweet read, “Three million – that is how many people in South Africa have lost their jobs during the nationwide lockdown so far, according to a new study conducted by 30 social science researchers from five South African universities. | @azarrahk.” This was retweeted 250 times and liked 176 times.


We are family

As the number of Covid-19 cases overtakes 300,000 in South Africa, Twitter users banded together to support those who are experiencing the loss of a loved one and those who are worried about their elderly. A top tweet for the day, posted by @zeexonline stated, “abazali bethu Bawo wam imbi imbi. praying for God to comfort every single person who has lost a loved one during this time.” The tweet resonated with many social media users, garnering nearly 4,000 likes and retweets. 

Another tweet that was well-received by numerous Twitter users read, “Seeing people lose their parents really breaks my heart. The death of a loved one is such a heartbreaking thing to experience and it’s worse when the person you lose is the one who used to hold it together for you. My condolences to everyone in mourning ♥.” There were an amazing 14,000 likes and 3,500 retweets. @ManuelVeyi posted, “guys, let’s pray for our parents.” 

Mind your mental health

The issue of mental health during the pandemic and lockdown was a focus on social media, as South Africans shared personal stories and came out to support those who may be feeling lonely during these trying times. 

Miss SA 2019 finalist, Zanele Phakathi, took to Twitter to provide comfort with her tweet, “Please don’t feel like you’re the only person going through a lot. We just don’t post the rough stuff on social media. Our lives are not perfect all the time. We are not happy all the time. You are not alone. Life kicks everybody’s ass every now and then. Please be strong ❤.” The tweet was widely shared with over 3,200 likes and retweets.

One Twitter user shared her personal story, encouraging others to be strong during this time, stating, “I’m 1 year and 9 months free from self-harm today!” The tweet was well-received and garnered over 2,500 likes, comments and retweets at the time of writing. 

Black identity

Some Twitter users expressed their thoughts on the history and current realities of black identity in South Africa. @_AfricanSoil shared a four-part thread containing videos of former President Jacob Zuma addressing parliament on the history of apartheid. The tweet read, “Movie camera [WATCH] One of the BEST moments in parliament which you’ll probably never ever witness again. President Zuma detailing the history of South Africa and how black people [natives] were colonised. [More videos on thread].” This attracted 403 retweets and 606 likes. 

@SuperiorZulu shared a post that also gained traction. The tweet read, “50m Black People believe they need less than 5m White People in order to create a country where system works in favour of uplifting the ‘majority’ from Poverty and make a sustainable life for all but the 5m People once ran the country without including the 50m People in decisions.” This tweet received 148 retweets and 322 likes.

Career advice

@AdvoBarryRoux shared a four-picture post with interview tips on how to handle and answer questions about strengths, weaknesses and career goals. The post received over 8,300 likes, 6,900 retweets and 87 comments. Raheel reminded people that when facing imposter syndrome, you must remember that you belong where you are because you earned it: “Today my prof told us something that I really needed to hear & I think many of you do too because imposter syndrome tends to sneak up on us: You belong in your degree. You’ve worked hard and earned your seat here. Remember that.” The tweet received an estimated 1,100 likes and 313 retweets and comments. 

Tebogo Mphahlele highlighted that one has to do the work in order to receive the opportunities they wish for. She tweeted, “I hope your work ethic matches your Prayers. You can’t pray for new opportunities and be lazy”, receiving over 8,000 likes and 2,100 retweets and comments.  

Missing people

Four missing persons tweets were shared, with the request to retweet the posts to spread awareness. Manda posted about Lunamandla Sithonga, a 12-year-old girl who has been missing for more than seven days. The tweet received over 1,300 retweets and 418 likes. 

Danny Biko shared a missing person tweet about Amanda Pungula, a 15-year-old girl who has been missing since 24 June 2020. The tweet received 2,400 retweets and 942 likes. 

@AdvoBarryRoux shared two missing persons posts; one of Thapelo Molope, a man from Lebowakgomo last seen on 12 July. The tweet received 668 retweets and 187 likes. The other tweet related to the disappearance of 15-year-old Angel from Benoni, which received 1,800 retweets and 507 likes. 

Mpumalanga serial rapist and murderer

Twitter posts of the rape and murder of five young women captured social media audiences. Twitter user @IamCatchvibe shared three photographs of the alleged crime scene, alongside the message, “Police in Mpumalanga have exhumed bodies of five women aged between 15 & 24 at a home of a man believed to be a serial killer at the Numbi village near Hazyview. The 25 year old suspect confessed to raping and killing the five women and buring them in his yard.” This gained traction with over 1,600 retweets and 1,000 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.

*See the genesis of the @TracyZille account here: Eff member from Makhado posed on twitter as racist white woman to monetise racial tensions.


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