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. A 24-hour trend report can be downloaded for media.
The President’s Address
The top three trending topics for the day related to the announcement of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s evening address. The post by @PresidencyZA announcing the address was the top post, with over 1 400 retweets, and topics related to the address had a burst rate of 100%.
Other drivers of the announcement were social media influencers like @AthiGeleba, who is the head of digital communications in the Presidency. Her tweet was retweeted 454 times, with people commenting about their fears and frustrations.
The post with the second highest reach was by @FullViewSABC: “What would you like President Ramaphosa to say in his address tonight?” The post led to comments like “we’re going back to level 5” and “we can now buy legal cigarettes again”.
Earlier in the day @TheAgenda_SABC tweeted a poll: “Do you think South Africa is ready to move to #level3 of the lockdown?” With 857 votes in, opinion was evenly split, with 51.9% responding “No” and 48.1% saying “Yes”.
At over 225 000, this tweet was eighth by reach.
Responses to the address
Responses to the President’s speech dominated the evening conversation, spiking in volume at 21:00, with over 12 000 mentions on Twitter.
President Ramaphosa announced that the next phase of the response to Covid-19 would be a gradual easing of lockdown and opening up of the economy.
@CyrilRamaphosa tweeted a recording of the speech, which was re-tweeted 110 times, had 258 comments and 392 likes. It was fourth by reach, at 266 031.
Conversation about the Presidential address increased the total volume in the overall Covid-19 conversation. Yesterday the conversation consisted of over 106 000 mentions, while volumes on Monday and Tuesday were 86000 and 87000, respectively.
@HermanMashaba tweeted that while the country would be going to Level 3, the economic hubs, Johannesburg and Cape Town metros, would remain at Level 4. Mashaba’s tweet that the metros should be opened up was tenth by reach for the day, reaching 188 201.
Public responses to the President’s address made up the bulk of last night’s conversation. Responses discussed the economic costs of the lockdown, and the move to Level 3 by the end of May.
@LukhonaMnguni’s tweet criticising the President for having “nothing to say”was the seventh highest by reach: it was re-tweeted 195 times and had a reach of 226 055.
Issued by the Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change.
See Cabc.org.za for daily reports
A deep analysis on any of these issues is available on request.
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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