South Africa


South Africa’s 24-hour trends report – 12 August 2020

South Africa’s 24-hour trends report – 12 August 2020
Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS)

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 12 August 2020.

Conversations about the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa trended ahead of an imminent end to the National State of Disaster this Saturday 15 August. News of the National Coronavirus Command Council’s recommendation to the President broke late in the day.

Announcement expected

News24 announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet had been advised to lift the ban on tobacco and alcohol sales and move to Level 2 lockdown. The President was expected to make a decision before the end of the week. News24’s article about the recommendation to the Cabinet trended heavily on Twitter, receiving nearly 5,000 likes and 3,000 retweets and comments by Thursday morning.

@MolefiNyofane weighed in on the economic effect of the lockdown: “By the time they say u can open we will be weak economically needing help from these other operating countries. This is not right at all.” The post included an image showing the volume of air traffic in Europe compared to that in South Africa. It received over 1,000 likes and nearly 500 retweets and comments.

Broadcaster Leanne Manas tweeted her interview with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. This garnered considerable attention online, reaching 2,000 likes and nearly 1,000 comments and retweets by Thursday. Mkhize did not confirm or deny that the coronavirus lockdown status would change, but said a move to Level 2 was being considered.

Two posts about pandemic statistics trended. @ajplus’s post claimed: “About 800 people around the world have died due to #COVID19 misinformation” and “Almost 6,000 were hospitalised and 60 blinded.”  Al Jazeera cited “a study” without any further information. The post found 400 likes and almost 500 retweets and comments.

@TMicholson posted a statistic about the Covid-19 recovery rate in Western Cape: “Western Cape recoveries now up to 89%. Active cases down to 7416. Average new infections for last 14 days down to 378pd. Well done all citizens of the best clean government in South Africa.” Some users commented, “Don’t believe these stats”, while others commended the Western Cape government for its handling of the crisis.


Pregnancy announcement

The top topic on South African Twitter was Actress Simphiwe Ngema’s announcement that she was expecting a child, driving over 8,000 mentions.

Ngema and her partner, actor Tino Chinyani, took to Twitter to share their heartwarming news, with Ngema posting: “I’m expecting my first Child.” The tweet took social media by storm and received over 44,000 likes by morning. Tino’s post  honoured the mother of his child: “For this gift you have given me, I promise I will always love, care & be there for you & our seed. May our seed grow to be a leader of change, a leader of hope & serve the Lord in all their ways. My legacy continued, my mini me.” The post was accompanied by pictures of Ngema at a maternity shoot and got nearly 37,000 likes, comments and retweets.

Many Twitter users celebrated the news, with one posting: “Simphiwe Ngema found love again. I am so happy nkare kenna.” This got over 10,000 likes and retweets. Another user said, “Simphiwe Ngema has been a stronger woman. Her pain was witnessed by all, let’s now embrace her joy as well. I don’t think that if one dies, people should stop feeling and living. She mourned her man and kept his memory alive; she must now live. Let her live bantu. Life goes on.” Another warned: “If that Tino guy breaks Simphiwe Ngema’s heart. He will have to deal with us. Simphiwe Ngema deserves pure happiness only.” Many other messages of solidarity, happiness and celebration of Simphiwe’s news were shared. She is definitely loved by the Twitterati.

Hashjackers strike

The concept of hashjacking is not new to South African social media, a phenomenon that sees narratives becoming dominated by stories that have little to do with the hashtags they are associated with. It’s a tactic used to gain followers or deflect attention from pertinent issues on social media.

Two tweets using trending hashtags, including #alcoholban, #influencerchallenge and #SimphiweNgema, were linked to emotive posts in order to gain followers, likes and retweets.

@LindisiphoSiyi1 became the fourth most mentioned tweeter of the day by posting: “Plz help us find #SandiswaRum. Last seen on Monday after work at Nyanga Police station! We recently got a call from the strangers and she’s crying on the background!! Please retweet as much as possible !! Siceluncedo! #AlcoholBan #SimphiweNgema #influencerchallenge” — followed by an urgent “Guys!! Those people keep calling us and she is crying on the background”. The original post received over 11,500 retweets and nearly 4,000 likes. The post was accompanied by pictures of a young woman, including one of her in a police uniform. Many users questioned why the information and phone calls were not being taken to the police instead of being posted on Twitter. Another user reported that Rum had been found.

@GiftMogoboya, took a harrowing original tweet posted on 11 August that had gained mass traction and reposted it using the hashtag #InfluencerChallenge, claiming it as his or her own. “This guys raped my niece on WOMENS DAY In Diepsloot he is in hiding. I will post his face everywhere until someone says I saw him ko shoprite in Giyani or something. She is just 9 years old! Pls RT guys.




While the post failed to gain the mass traction of the original, which got over 15,200 retweets, questions remain over whether Twitter users are exploiting emotive topics such as GBV to gain likes and followers.


Job seekers 

As unemployment bites deeper into livelihoods, more and more people are turning to social media in desperation.

@Dlala_Power put out a call on Twitter for people to retweet his post in the hope of finding employment. He explained that he had sent out many CVs and had not received a single call. He holds a national diploma in labour law. His post has been retweeted more than 6,500 times and has received close to 5,000 likes. Responders offered helpful tips to encourage the job seeker to persevere. @PusoMotidi suggested he review the formatting of his CV as it may be the layout more than the content that is dissuading potential employers from making contact with him.

@Zizipho45929119 tweeted that she was desperate and in search of a job. She said she would appreciate any job offer. The post was retweeted more than 3,000 times and received close to 4,000 likes. The image with the tweet displays a young woman holding a sign announcing her qualification (a BTech in local government finance). The account that posted this tweet was created in July 2020 and contains only tweets about Zizipho looking for employment.

@iGrootman_ tweeted about a vacancy for a candidate attorney. He posted vacancies for candidate attorneys at law firms like Shepstone & Wylie, indicating that there were jobs available for those with the right qualifications. This post was retweeted more than 400 times as people tried to spread the word of the available positions. 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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