South Africa


South Africa’s 24-hour trends report – 5 August 2020

South Africa’s 24-hour trends report – 5 August 2020
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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 5 August 2020.

The #zimbabweanlivesmatter movement has taken South African Twitter by storm, overshadowing many of the issues that have prevailed on social media over the past weeks.

Makeshift bandage

Shortages of hospital supplies became a symbol of the fragile social fabric in Zimbabwe as the uproar of recent detentions and events escalates. 

Constitutional lawyer Fadzayi Mahere (@advocatemahere) shared harrowing details of Zimbabwe’s failing healthcare system. In a tweet, Mahere posted: “Look at what our hospitals have been reduced to. No proper strapping or bandages for patients because of a looting, corrupt incompetent regime that doesn’t care about its people. This is why we are protesting and telling the world that #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.” He posted a picture of a patient bandaged with what appears to be a OK shopping sticker. In another post, he shared an image of hospital staff and nurses wearing what appeared to be sheets as PPE stating: “The lack of personal protective equipment in public hospitals means nurses often have to ‘make a plan’. Corruption and chronic underfunding have brought our public health system to its knees thus placing lives at risk. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.” The posts had received nearly 7,900 likes and retweets by this morning.

Politician and constitutional lawyer, @BitiTendai took to Twitter to share: “Emmerson’s regime is one of the few in the world that actually wakes up to plot repression, pain & suffering against its people. Literally every single day, there is an attack on citizens be it be abductions, arrests, laws, policy measures or bad governance. #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.” The tweet resonated with social media users, receiving over 2,800 likes, retweets and comments by today.

As people from many countries banded together behind the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter movement, Mahere (@advocatemahere) acknowledged their solidarity by posting: “It’s important for us to take a step back and thank all the amazing people from across the continent and the world who have taken the time to show solidarity with Zimbabweans in expressing the inalienable truth that #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.” The post received widespread traction, garnering over 4,600 likes and 1,900 likes and retweets. Several users thanked and supported the advocate for taking their fight to an international stage on social media.

Outspoken protester Lasizwe Dambuza continued to support the movement despite having suffered homophobic attacks. He posted: “Yoh! I really thought this homophobic thing wasn’t going to affect me but damn!… it got me hard! But I still stand with Zimbabwe! I wish for the violation of human rights in Zimbabwe to STOP and the rights of the LGBTQI+ to be treated equally! WE ARE HUMANS TOO!” The post took Twitter by storm, with over 18,200 likes, retweets and comments. Many thanked him for his support and reassured him that he was loved by his friends, family and fans.

Shameful silence 

South African public interest lawyer Richard Spoor took to Twitter to share his dismay at the silence of the South African government on the crisis in Zimbabwe. His post, which garnered almost 1,000 likes, retweets and comments by Thursday morning, stated: “The silence of the South African government on the current wave of repression and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe is shameful. The government has lost whatever moral standing it once enjoyed. As a South African, I am ashamed.”

Both the DA and EFF spoke out strongly against Zimbabwe, with the DA posting: “The DA calls for Ramaphosa and SADC leaders to prevent, on a major scale, the erosion of human rights in Zimbabwe and any further decline in reputation and investment risk to the entire region. We are deeply concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe.” The post received widespread support with over 2,700 likes and 1,500 retweets and comments. The EFF called for the shutdown of the Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa. 

Black identity

Conversations about the nuances of black identity, black empowerment, black governance and black business received significant attention on social media yesterday, trending by volume and burst.

@Sethuuuuuuuu shared a three-part thread: “The black racial group is so divided tbh. Do you see white people fighting over light-skinned and dark-skinned within their own racial group?” This tweet received 177 retweets and 309 likes. Later in the day @mpumz_n shared an anecdotal tweet: “people who grew up calling us mnyamane and sash are now saying that colourism isn’t a thing?” This tweet generated 380 retweets and nearly 700 likes.

Some users shared their thoughts on the complexities of relationships in the black community. @ZiphoratorSA tweeted: “Some black people are so used to failed marriages and relationships, that when they see a happy couple, they immediately make up malicious rumours like IT WILL END IN TEARS just because happiness is such a rare thing in the black community and they cannot relate.” This tweet received 275 retweets and almost 600 likes.

Normal poverty

Conversations about governance in South Africa trended throughout the day as Twitter users expressed their frustrations with the current administration. President of the Mining Forum of South Africa @BlessingsRamoba tweeted: “The ANC government has made black people to accept and normalise poverty.” This tweet received 309 retweets and over 1,000 likes.

Later @Unathi_Kwaza tweeted: “Top, well-paying government jobs are reserved only for black people in South Africa. But they still blame white people for being failures in life.” This tweet generated 133 retweets and 520 likes.

Conversations about discrimination against black people, particularly at an institutional level, received some attention on Twitter.

@_AfricanSoil shared a two-part thread about the court case between the Council for Medical Schemes and Sizwe Medical Fund. The initial tweet contained four pages from the court document with the message: “Council for Medical Schemes vs Sizwe Medical Fund. Dear black people, this is how WMC destroys black-owned brands. CMS lied about SMF status mainly to scare their clients and see it collapse. SMF fought tooth and nail & WON the case in court. This is how you do it.” This tweet received 235 retweets and 263 likes.

Uplifting black people

Following the release of Beyonce’s #BlackIsKing project, many Twitter users expressed their appreciation for the showcasing of black (particularly African) talent. @BlackIsKing shared images of the movie poster and a photograph of the late South African composer Solomon Linda: “Ms Tina has revealed that Beyoncé decided to make #BlackIsKing when she heard the story of Solomon Linda, the South African composer of Lion Sleeps Tonight who received no credit from Disney. She decided to fix that injustice and show the beauty of Africa from the eyes of Africans.” This tweet gained significant traction, with over 6,700 retweets and 21,900 likes by this morning. 

Harbour explosion

While the Lebanese coast reels from the impact of the explosion that shook Beirut this week, videos of the destruction are flooding social media. The Beirut explosion trended within the top three topics.

@ajplus tweeted that there had been 100 deaths and 4,000 people injured, many people were still missing and family members have been going to the port in search of their loved ones. This post received more than 4,000 retweets and over 5,000 likes. Within the comments to the tweet, a thread from Al Jazeera reads: “Public records & documents published online show senior Lebanese officials knew for +6 years that ammonium nitrate was stored in a hangar at Beirut’s port & the dangers it posed.” 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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