| Ebrahim Fakir and Molebogeng Mokoka | Conversations on Twitter: Parties lose out as stunts backfire

As the municipal elections rep closer, prognosis of conversations on Twitter disclose that it’s turning into extra of a talking point, alternatively doubtlessly no longer in the kind parties would desire. This week political parties trended on Twitter for the total irascible reasons, write Ebrahim Fakir and Molebogeng Mokoka.

Campaign stunts for the upcoming native government elections left three political parties with egg on their faces this week, as they trended on social media – for the total irascible reasons.

The ANC tried to make use of the “power of incumbency” because the governing rep together to originate a stadium in Lesseyton, rural Jap Cape, and disclose that it’s handing over kind and holding to its mandate – simplest to be lambasted for spending R15 million on what looks to be pitifully downhearted, sub-par facilities whose input and other prices wouldn’t quantity to R15 million in label. 

READ | Qaanitah Hunter: Politicians, why invent or no longer it’s necessary to be so crass?

The DA set aside up campaign posters in Phoenix, Durban, that tried to milk peaceable issues of speed and identity following recent insurrectionary violence and subsequent racial profiling in the predominantly Indian suburb of Phoenix in Durban. Honest no longer too prolonged ago, Africans admire been focused for reprisal assaults after the looting and destruction of property that characterised the stand up. The community of Phoenix changed into accused of being “racist vigilantes” when 36 of us admire been killed in unrest in the plight following the stand up. For its segment, the Phoenix community participants claimed to be “holding their property, lifestyles and livelihoods” from assault. The DA set aside up campaign posters in the plight announcing “The ANC known as you racists,” adopted by a separate poster reading “, The DA calls you heroes”. Following a principal public and media outcry, the DA committed to taking the posters down and issuing a press release meant to befriend as an apology – however the truth is stopped speedy of doing so.  

READ | Pieter du Toit: ‘You may possibly well perhaps no longer be serious’ – McEnroe’s outburst simplest response to DA’s Phoenix snafu

Former DA Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and his recent rep together, ActionSA, launched a frontal assault on the IEC after the Commission “skipped over” the rep together’s abbreviated title, or acronym, on ward pollpapers, holding simplest the ward candidate’s names and the ActionSA label. Because the 2000 native government elections pollpapers admire simplest borne the title of a ward candidate, the candidate’s rep together acronym or abbreviation and the emblem of the rep together. It therefore turned out that ActionSA did no longer comply with the regulatory necessities when filling out the forms registering the rep together, which require parties to provide an abbreviation or acronym for the rep together – along with the opposite necessities. ActionSA, it looks, admire been simply unable to possess out a rudimentary get. 

READ | In-depth: ‘ActionSA may possibly well also simply admire missed a beat’ – consultants on rep together’s staunch action against the IEC 

The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Commerce (CABC), which has been monitoring conversations around the elections on Twitter since July, stumbled on that controversies around the three parties contributed to an amplified volume in election conversations between 27 September and 5 October. 

With less than a month sooner than the elections, online conversations continue rising in quantity, with higher than 32 000 mentions and 14 000 recent authors on this era. Right here’s an lengthen from the 24 000 mentions and 11 000 recent authors from the old week (20 to 26 September). 

Fig. 1 beneath shows the volume of the dialog between 27 September and 5 October, besides to the recent author depend.

The graph shows approximately two posts by each and each author engaged in the dialog in regards to the elections. In contrast to final week’s report, the proportion of recent authors is increased: it’s obvious that many extra of us have gotten a member of the dialog as we draw closer to election day. 


Three events contributed to the spikes in the dialog for the duration of the week. The important thing changed into on 30 September, when President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the nation to stress alert Level 1. The 2nd spike in the dialog changed into pushed by the photos of the R15 million Lesseyton sports self-discipline going public. The third changed into when ActionSA attempted to continue tarnishing the IEC for its have incapacity to conform with the necessities for having its acronym on ward pollpapers.

Social media users expressed their suspicions that government’s resolution to stir the nation to lockdown Level 1 changed into influenced by the need for campaigning for the upcoming elections. 


Whereas issues esteem these are faded tactically by opposition parties to turn voters a long way flung from the governing rep together, they concurrently lengthen voters’ mistrust in government, which looks to be a rising ingredient in the behavior – and presumably the final outcome – of the elections.

CABC records confirms that mistrust in government is on the lengthen following the discharge of the ANC’s manifesto, which changed into negatively received – seriously the ANC’s allure to voters to “give it every other likelihood”. If this changed into in any doubt, the trending topics for this week following the ANC manifesto originate admire been: #R15million and #Voetsekanc – inquire of Fig 2. 


This detrimental idea of the ANC changed into exacerbated by allegations that ANC treasurer-accepted Paul Mashatile changed into shopping votes. This took root after video photos surfaced showing him handing out money for the duration of a church carrier in Limpopo. Despite the denial of the allegations, the video sparked a web debate around the ethics of politicians shopping votes, seriously parties continuing to make use of their power of incumbency. 

Shortly after the ANC in the Jap Cape proudly unveiled a “speak of the art work” stadium for the duration of election campaigning, the backlash slapped them down as opposing political parties and social media users accused the ANC of wasteful expenditure and deceiving the overall public.


The week’s most engaged tweet criticised the ANC for failing to toughen companies and products for 27 years. 


Some accounts interior the RET forces network additionally seem to be forsaking the ANC for the upcoming elections after accusing the rep together of mistreating archaic president Jacob Zuma, whose incarceration in penal complicated resulted in in kind civil unrest in July. 




ActionSA’s contrived spat with the IEC over the rep together’s have failure to put up correct particulars to the IEC ensured that ActionSA made it to the discontinue of the tweet engagement for the duration of this week. (Fig. 3)


The fixed fallacious doubts solid over the integrity of the IEC by unscrupulous rep together leaders, in most cases with out worthy advantage, looks to be continuing to fuel public mistrust in the IEC. 


Amongst the absolute top volume of tweeters, this week changed into the Celebration of Movement (fig.4), which has previously made headlines after alleging that ActionSA stole its label. 

The rep together changed into among the many discontinue three accounts with the absolute top tweet volumes, however did no longer get worthy traction because it did no longer feature among the many most engaged tweets. The rep together looks to on a mission to promote itself as a rep together appealing to anti-vaxxers since an limitless fragment of its online presence is devoted to a Covid-19 prevention technique that preaches a message of pure immunity and no obligatory masks or vaccines. 


The CABC will continue to trace social media conversations on Twitter in regards to the IEC and the elections to name and realize the important thing issues of mumble raised by the overall public, voters, political parties and other electoral stakeholders. The amount and depth of conversations are liable to get momentum (and controversy) as we head closer to the elections cycle. It is traumatic that political parties continue to solid needless aspersions on the IEC, fueling public mistrust. It is, alternatively, encouraging that the IEC has now emerged to talk extra forcefully and precisely and proper the faux files and fallacious info propagated by political parties, their leaders and supporters. It indicators that a authentic and neatly-managed election may possibly well also simply but be that you are going to provide you the option to imagine despite the adversarial cases.            

– Ebrahim Fakir is Director of Programmes on the Auwal Socio-Economic Compare Institute (ASRI), Molebogeng Mokoka is a journalist and Euston Witbooi, a researcher on the CABC.

Disclaimer:  News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of various views. The views of columnists printed on News24 are as a result of this fact their have and invent no longer essentially thunder the views of News24.

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