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 on 10 June 2020. Global trends affecting South Africa are also featured.
Naming and shaming
Conversations about Gender Based Violence continued to trend on social media today as Twitter users called for urgent action against this repulsive behaviour. The topic was driven by the recent killing of Tshegofatso Pule, making #TshegofatsoPule a top topic by burst.
“A woman 8 months pregnant, stabbed to death and hung on a tree! Hung on a tree!! Makude kuthini? I am not okay. This is not okay! Mr President @CyrilRamaphosa we are dying Tata” tweeted Miss SA 2019, Zozibini Tunzi, as the outcry against the killing of women in South Africa continued.
@NokuphilaKhany1 shared a list of 403 women alleged to have died at the hands of men in South Africa. The tweet received over 4 800 likes, 5 200 retweets and 161 comments.@WomenRaping started a twitter thread ‘Stop Raping Women’, listing over ten men who had allegedly sexually assaulted women. The thread also included screenshots of text messages between alleged abusers and their victims, attesting to the assaults. The tweet received 51 comments, 351 likes and 375 retweets.
A tweet by @itslebza from April this year re-emerged today in response to the recent spate of GBV incidents.@itslebza tweeted: “All I’m saying is that in LO they should be teaching teenagers about paedophilia, statutory rape & consent. Real life issues. Instead, people are being taught useless material that they’ll never need”. The tweet received 1 300 retweets, 3 400 likes and 42 comments. The comments highlighted the inconsistencies in the Life Orientation curriculum: some Twitter users confirmed they had received lessons on sex, rape and consent, while other users said they had not - they viewed the subject as a “free class”.
A recurring suggestion to curb gender-based violence is the reinstatement of the death penalty.@Yeezy_Dizzle tweeted: “Honestly, the death sentence is needed in South Africa. You deny someone their right to live, you MUST also be denied your right to live #TshegofatsoPule”. Most comments in response agreed. The tweet received nearly 1 500 likes, retweets and comments.
@KaidyBee had a message for the Minister of Police: “I wish Bheki Cele could invest the same energy that he invested while fighting alcohol, on protecting us. Women are endangered species in South Africa. But we still have the "not all men" brigade that is always ready to defend themselves when a woman dies in SA #TshegofatsoPule”. The tweet received over 700 retweets, likes and comments.
As the #BlackLivesMatter protests spark change in the United States, issues around race and racism continue to generate debate in South Africa, making ‘people’ the top topic of the day, with 76 182 mentions. ‘Black’ was the second biggest topic yesterday: the word was mentioned 46 131 times in conversations.
Mike O'Meara, president of a New York police union, trended online after making a passionate plea to not vilify all police. He said police did not support the killing of George Floyd: “stop treating us like animals”. @BroderickHunter, an American actor and model, retweeted the speech with the caption “Stop treating us the way we treat black people.”@Travon, a comedian and writer, did the same with the caption: “They've been treated like they treat black people for two weeks and they're having a mental breakdown”.
Some Twitter users asked how successful the BlackLivesMatter movement would have been had it occurred in South Africa. At 09.49 yesterday @Zah_Zungu tweeted: “I don't think white South Africans would support us the same way White Americans are supporting Black Americans if what happened in America were to happen here”. This tweet had received 87 retweets and 408 likes by 09.00 today.
@reallisaadams tweeted what she termed a “story of white supremacy in South Africa”. She described how her employer had obstructed staff from participating in the BlackLivesMatter protests: employees were barred from discussing the issues on the company’s communication channels. The story was posted at 16.00 on 10 June and had been retweeted 1 000 times and liked 999 times by 09.30 this morning. The majority of responses were supportive, and many commentators asked for the name of the company so that they could stop trading with them.
One person, whose Twitter profile picture is the old orange, white and blue flag of apartheid South Africa,responded that“work is not the place for political activism”.
The effectiveness of the BlackLivesMatter protests is being widely discussed: some users noted that they had resulted in real change, while others were less optimistic. SABC journalist @samkelemaseko tweeted: “The hype will sadly die down and RACISTS will continue with their disgusting ways as per their normal. Our leaders will move to the next outcry to issue messages of support and condemnation. Black People will still be made to feel inferior and less human. Sad reality”. Musician @casspernyovest Tweeted: “I just constructed 8 long tweets and deleted them cause i just remembered that nothing matters on this app. It's all fun and games. Back to my real life. Where there are repercussions for what you say or do. Hope yall coping out there. Life is hard!!! Stay hard!!! Spread love!!!”. The two Tweets had a combined total of 1 200 retweets and 6 400 likes by 10.00 this morning.
As people seek ways to bring change, calls to support South African black-owned businesses are gaining traction. @Madame_Shonsan tweeted about her company and received strong online support: her Tweet was retweeted
1 300 times in 22 hours. @MsBakweNahla said: ““Black owned” doesn’t mean cheap, at all, unlearn that”, which was retweeted 3 200 times and liked 8 300 in the same period.
Nationalism marches on
The second biggest topic of the day was “South Africans”, driven primarily by the emerging conversation around #PutSouthAfricansFirst and nationalism. This also drove #JuliusMalemaMustFall yesterday, which was quickly eclipsed by #JuliusMalemaMustRise: which emerged as the number one hashtag by burst.
A post by @SayEntrepreneur, a self-proclaimed information centre for South African entrepreneurship, alleges there are millions of jobs for unemployed South Africans in restaurants, malls, supermarkets and hotels, and employers who choose not to employ South Africans must provide a valid reason. The post ended with: “"South Africans are lazy" STATEMENT IS A LIE.” This post received over 1 900 likes, retweets and comments, with many Twitter users naming businesses that were employing non-citizens. Others shared their positive experience after outsourcing work to non-South Africans.
Musician Lvovo showed his support for the #PutSouthAfricansFirst movement by tweeting: “Our people must get jobs before we start thinking of visitors. I’m for everyone kodwa South Africans must come first in everything! That's where I stand! Enough is enough!!! Niyajaabula yina if yo neighbors have been unemployed for years n years?!”. His tweet, originally posted on 8 June, garnered over 4 200 likes, retweets and comments.
As early as 05:00 yesterday, #JuliusMalemaMustFall was trending on Twitter on the back of his stance against the #PutSouthAfricans First hashtag. The EFF leader called on all Africans to unite. Twitter user @advovolicious’s post calling for the downfall of Julius Malema at 05:52 yesterday garnered over
5 500 likes, retweets and comments by today. The post mocked the EFF leader, stating: “we should organize a therapy session for this small boy the anger in him isn't normal. He is angry at himself, his friends, his family, his political party members and lastly opposition party's. His tired shame he needs help.” EFF leaders and supporters jumped to Malema’s defence, bombarding Twitter with posts under the hashtag #JuliusMalemaMustRise, and making it the top topic of the afternoon.
Many EFF leaders, including Secretary General Marshall Dlamini, MP Patrick Sindane, Commissar and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and MP Floyd Shivambu all contributed by posting about Malema’s bravado during Marikana and his organic growth as a leader. These tweets received thousands of likes, with Ndlozi’s tweet alone attracting over 6 000 likes, retweets and comments by this morning, and the video posted by Shivambu receiving over 15 000 views.
Getting in vogue
The Vogue Challenge was the overall top topic on Twitter as creative users shared their version of Vogue’s cover, raising issues about the lack of cultural diversity on the cover of Vogue and within the organisation.
Popular Creative Director and Photographer Joshua Kissi gave context to the trend: “The #VogueChallenge is truly beautiful to see. It isn't enough to have JUST Black models on the cover of Vogue. There should be space for Black photographers to bring these stories to life. In Vogue's 125 year history there has been one Black photographer to photograph a cover.” The tweet received over 12 000 likes and 5 300 retweets.
@klimtsonian outlined the motivation behind the hashtag: “hey guys, the Vogue cover challenge started as a way for Black people to challenge Anna Wintour claiming she hasn’t found a way to make space for Black creativity in her 30 year tenure. it is not the space of non-Black artists to turn it into an art challenge.” The tweet received 17 700 retweets and 41 300 likes. @Menzi. shared the sentiment: “Vogue challenge is so bittersweet, that magazine doesn’t deserve this much beauty and hype from black people. Those guys put Kendall in several covers”. The tweet received 117 retweets and 141 likes, with twitter users commenting that black people don’t need a black Vogue, but a black owned magazine.
@chuuzus shared a video of two sneaky young people grabbing pieces of clothing on a street, with the comment: “Anna Wintour and the entire Vogue team stealing black people’s ideas from the #VogueChallenge and using it on white models”. The tweet received 74 600 views, 2 200 retweets and
5 300 likes by this morning.
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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