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.
Conversations on news and social media focussed on the announcementof restrictions forreligious gatheringsunderlevel 3 of the lockdown, the day’stoptrendingtopic by burst and volume.
Late on Monday night Politicsweb posted acallby President Cyril Ramaphosa for a day of prayer and meditation on31May.At 19:00 yesterday the President announcedthat at level 3, religious gatherings of no more than 50 people wouldbe allowed, leading to a spike in conversation at 20:00.
@ThembiMrototohelpedtodrivetheconversationabouteasingrestrictions on congregational worship:thepostwasretweeted more than 180 times and received a few hundred likesby this morning.#churchisessential trended strongly towardsthe end of the day.
Conversation aboutreligious gatheringsresuming raised questions about which restrictions would be eased next.
At 19:59@TomEatonSAtweeted“Just so I’m clear: at level 3, we *will* be able to go into a church with 49 people we don't know and whose personal discipline around Covid hygiene is unknown to us, but we *won't* be able to visit the homes of friends or family?”. This post had already been retweeted over 1 000 times with close to 3 000 likesby this morning.
The EFF’s@MbuyiseniNdlozi, who became very vocal against the move to level 3last week,asked:“what’s next?If you say churches must open, what grounds do you have to deny these other spaces to also open?” This tweet was retweeted 1 000 times and had close to 5 000 likesby this morning.Oneresponder commented that itwas easierto control 50 people in a restaurant thanina church,so we should be allowed to open everything.
At 20:48@SayEntrepreneur tweeted@CyrilRamaphosatocancel the lockdown,askingwhy churches were being prioritized over other gatherings.
As South Africaheads towardsits third month in lockdown, many are questioning thedevastating impacton jobs and the economy.
The 8thtop topic by volume was “flatten the curve”,driven by the Health Minister DrZweli Mkhize’s tweet abouthow thelockdown hadhelpedin the battle against Covid-19. In aseries of tweets,hesaid the lockdown hadhelped to flatten the curve and gavethe countrytime to prepare health services. This tweet received nearly 7 500 likes, retweets and commentsby this morning. Dr Mkhize also postedan infographic videoexplaining how the lockdown hadhelped the nation- it wasviewed over 25 000 times.In anews story that receivedsignificant social media traction,Dr Mkhize warnedthat hotspots could remain at Level 4,drivingvolumeyesterday afternoon, making“Level 4”a top topic.
TheMinister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs also featured in top posts by reach and impact for the dayafteraddressing the impact the lockdown has had on the economy.DrNkosazana Dlamini-Zumayesterdaytoldthe National Council of Provinces that unemployment would increase to 50% due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A Team24postabout theNCOP presentationwas the 9th top post by impact for the day.
Atweetby @Gene72214395stirred upsocial media users, saying Dr Dlamini-Zuma“blamed it [unemployment] in[sic] the downgrade. She blamed it on Covid. Everyone else was blamed except her ex husband. Who in the past allowed some Indians to take the Country’s money#Guptas”. The tweetreceived over 1 000 likes, retweets and comments, mostly againstthe “blame game”.
Sympathyfor people who have died while trying to help othersto fight the Covid-19pandemic has been an ongoing theme insocial mediaconversation.
A member oftheairliftcrewwho helped torepatriate South Africans from Wuhan, China,hasdied from cancer. Tebatso Ntshane wasa39-year-oldflight attendant on the first planeto bringstrandedSouth Africanshome. Tributes and condolences have pouredin, with news of her death trending onTwitter.@KhayaJamestweetwasretweeted 334 times and liked over 1 800 times.A@SAFMnewstweetwas retweeted more than 650 times.
Panyaza Lesufi is the MEC for Education and Youth Development in the Gauteng Province.He tweeted:“I differ, strongly so, on the use and sale of alcohol. I’ve stated this view before.This drug is costly, ruthless and should be defeated. It has no value in building a healthy society. My teachings are clear, protect the weak, the poor, vulnerable and fight racism at all times”. His tweet received over 7900 likes, was retweeted 1 600 times and had 926 comments.
Mostresponses supported his view,butsomepointed outthat the consumption of alcoholwas a personal choice in a democratic society.
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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