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Analysis

South Africa’s 24-hour trend report – 24 April 2020

OHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 23: A general view of South African citizens watching President Cyril Ramphosa addressing the Nation amid Covid19 national lockdown on April 23, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and narratives related to social cohesion in South African public-domain social media conversations on 24 April 2020.

Life in lockdown

DSTV#SignThePetition drove the 6am-8am spike in volume. #LockdownGraduationDay was a secondary driver of the 2pm-3pm spike.

A video post by @Nandi_Madida was the fifth post by reach, followed at sixth by a photo posted by @SandileLeon with the hashtag #IKnewIWasHurtWhen. MaskChallenge hashtags, which originated after the President’s comical mask blunder, were used more than 1 700 times on 24 April.

The #DSTVMUSTFALL petition trended throughout the morning. With 54 405 signatures already in the bag, the target for #SignThePetition was raised to 75 000.

South Africans behind the petition feel that DSTV is taking advantage of them, as DSTV has allegedly dropped fees in other African countries, but not in South Africa. This is further exacerbated by the lack of live sport.

@uLerato_Pillay and @UmalambaneZN were once again notable drivers of engagement with this narrative.

 At the peak in the conversation, @UmalambaneZN tweeted about receiving over 60 online articles about #dstvmustfall, a hashtag that was created on his thread. He provided stats indicating the hashtag trended at number 24 worldwide.

@UmalambaneZN instructed his audience to redirect the attention they had garnered towards #LockdownGraduationDay: “let us focus on celebrating our brothers and sisters who can’t graduate because of the lockdown”. 

About 150 graduates have submitted their details to him to stage a mock graduation ceremony, most likely online. 

 The first mention of the hashtag was just after noon and it spiked at 1pm. 

Sentiment towards “celebrating our brothers and sisters” was overwhelmingly positive.

As we adapt to sudden change all around us, awkward and embarrassing moments offer moments of pure gold for our South African sense of humour.

President Cyril Ramaphosa led by example when he signed off his address to the nation with an unintended face-mask routine. This moment allowed Twitter to exhale with some light comedic relief before dissecting the content of the address.

An article by Marianne Merten detailed the misadventures of our politicians as they navigated the world of video conferencing. This was the top news story for the day and the third post by impact.

South Africans have not visited salons and beauty parlours for 4 weeks now, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t taking care of themselves. Many are happy to share their stories, making sentiment towards the trending  #FetchYourBody2020 very positive. 

 @NandiMadida posted a video of her lockdown dance “dedicated to those who have seen better days for their nails and hair”. The post received over 3 000 likes, with 239 retweets, and the video has been viewed over 22 000 times.

People who haven’t been making much effort on their appearance updated twitter followers that they had straightened their hair for the first time in weeks (@Qaabilah). Others posted about the importance of keeping fit (@ThabisoYeniSA and @maroof_bismah). Some (@Ndeelly) posted their own beauty tips.

At 8.21pm @Sandileleon used the hashtag #IKnewIWasHurtWhen to tweet that he had lost his brother on 18 April. 

The loss was aggravated by not being able to hold a proper funeral as the family lived in various provinces. 

Twitter SA unanimously responded with empathy and compassion. Many tried to help by suggesting ways to get permits, others shared their condolences and his pain.

Although local first-hand accounts of loss and are rare, stories from around the world are shared on South African social media daily.

Tito Mboweni

Tito Mboweni was the number one trending topic of the day and the second biggest topic of conversation by volume.

A post by @AdvoBarryRoux, paraphrasing Mboweni’s stance on spaza shops post lockdown, was the top post by reach and impact.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s address providing details of social grants was published and posted by several news accounts.

 Questions about how the R1-billion for PPE would be spent were raised by authors like @StyleSALebogang in response to a News24 post. 

@travischase21 raised the topic of rent relief – pointing out that landlords are asking for rent even though people are not receiving salaries. 

The thread of government looting continued, along with the fear that the government’s initiatives would be aimed only at BEE compliant companies.

Minister Mboweni’s tone and language caught the attention of traditional and social media. 

An immediate response followed his statement that spaza shops will now need to be licenced and registered with SARS, implying that refugees and illegal residents will be forced to close their businesses.

These statements were discussed widely throughout the day, with a wide spectrum of responses. The lack of detail regarding the implementation of relief measures was a common concern in many threads.

 Mboweni recalled a time when 8 out of 10 restaurant workers were South African and said: “The proportion of South Africans working in a restaurant must be greater than that of non-South Africans.” This quote inflamed Twitter ZA more that the entire Spaza Shop thread.

Accounts known for xenophobic rhetoric pounced on this and encouraged business to implement these recommendations, igniting hundreds of comments with xenophobic sentiment.

 Opposition or Collaboration

A post by @MbuyiseniNdlozi warning the President of the dangers of easing the lockdown was the second biggest post on the day by both reach and impact. A statement released by EFF on Thursday drove the spike in conversation from 9pm to 10pm on Friday.

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tweeted statistics about Covid-19 infection rates and deaths. He directed the tweets to @CyrilRamaphosa, expressing the EFF  view that the President was acting prematurely by relaxing the lockdown.

In his next post, he pointed out that the President’s adviser, Prof Salim Abdool Karim, said that the lockdown must not be relaxed.

@Mnhalanhla55 was quick to respond that closing the economy could result in further fatalities due to socio-economic conditions. Taking a jab at Ndlozi, he added “you might not understand because you are still getting your full salary”. This response received 168 likes.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the phased approach announced by the President was in line with what the DA had recently called for: “This phased, risk-adjusted model, whereby restrictions are lifted as and when the data suggests it is safe, is critical to protecting precious jobs and ensuring that the livelihood of millions of South Africans is saved.” 

He said it was encouraging that the DA and the President were on the same page regarding the phased re-opening of the economy.

During a recent press briefing, President Donald Trump made some very questionable suggestions regarding the use of strong UV lights, or disinfectant injected into the body, as a treatment for Covid-19.

Engagement with this post drove the spike in volume between 2pm and 3pm.

This was the fourth biggest topic by volume for the day.

The most retweeted and liked response in the South African Covid-19 conversation compared the US and South African death rate, commenting that the difference was “leadership”. DM

About the CABC 

The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation incubated at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. The CABC stimulates positive social change through engagement, dialogue and advocacy. www.cabc.org.za 

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