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.
Doors wide shutThe 3rd top post by reach was tweeted at 19:47 yesterday, announcing that the reopening of schools has been pushed out to Monday 8 June.
@EFFSouthAfrica tweeted “The EFF Rejects The Premature and Homicidal Reopening of Schools in the Midst of COVID-19 Pandemic”. This tweet was liked over 1 000 times and South African schools were not ready to reopen on 1 June. @MmusiMaimane, tweeting in response to Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, rescheduling her press briefing said: “If you are not ready to hold a press conference at the time advertised. You are not ready to reopen schools for over 2 millions students and half a million teachers. #Angie Motshekga”. The tweet had received 6 700 likes and 1 400 retweets by 10:00 today.
Western Cape MEC Debbe Schafer’s tweet that the province's pupils would return to school today has been liked more than 1 000 times and retweeted 460 times. It featured as the 3rd highest post by reach for the weekend in the coronavirus conversation, indicating the importance of this topic for South Africans. Responders to the tweet expressed frustration with this sudden change by Minister Angie Motshekga, as many parents had geared up to send their children to school. Others were angry that the Western Cape, with the highest reported infection numbers, was not following the orders of the national government.
Pushing backAs the coronavirus pandemic deepens, the economic, social and legal impacts of the lockdown are becoming more prominent. There is also growing pushback and resistance to some of the lockdown regulations. “Lockdown Regulations” was the number 10 topic by mentions, with over 2 600 mentions.
The MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng, tweeted out from her account, @FaithMazibukoSA: “The owner of The Grill Palace, in Soshanguve, was fined for contravening lockdown regulations, by having customers collect food instead of delivering. Four of his employees, who are foreign nationals, were detained for failing to produce documentation”. At 09:00 today the tweet had been liked 1 700 times and retweeted 801 times. But @FaithMazibukoSA was on the wrong side of public sentiment when she tweeted about the arrest of a liquor store owner, and the confiscation of alcohol. Mazibuko also mentioned that a stolen car, reported stolen 10 years ago, was recovered. Comments tended to be negative, with many criticising the arrest of the bottle store owner and the confiscation of alcohol just two days before sale of alcohol became legal again. Others noted that recovering a vehicle 10 years after it was stolen should not be considered a success.
South Africans criticised the over-zealous enforcement of lockdown regulations and the arrest of civilians for violating lockdown, while those committing more serious crimes continued with impunity.@DawieMalan3 tweeted on 30 May: “A quarter of a million people have now been arrested for breaking lockdown regulations. But all three Guptas are still running loose”. This tweet had been retweeted 245 times and liked 614 times by 09:00 today.
Not in style
As some South Africans returned to work today, groups that are not yet permitted to work are trending in online conversation, including hairdressers and stylists.
Last Thursday 28 an urgent application for hairdressers to return to work was dismissed in the Western Cape High Court. @News24 and @TheCitizen_News tweeted stories about hairdressers who were choosing to work illegally “to make ends meet”. At 09:00 this morning the two tweets had over 150 likes, 17 retweets and 40 comments. Of the 40 comments, the majority supported hairdressers returning to work.
Public sentiment appears to be shifting away from supporting the lockdown for health reasons, towards supporting a return to work to meet financial needs.
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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