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 22 June 2020.
Information about the taxi strike was widely shared on Twitter. This topic dominated conversation by both volume and burst. Burst describes how significantly the topic was covered over the 2nd half of the day, and provides a strong indicator for the trend continuing over the next day.
Conversations around the taxi strike in Gauteng trended on social media following the industry’s disagreement with government over the COVID-19 relief grant. On Monday 22 June 2020, Twitter user @SuperiorZulu expressed support for the strike saying: “It’s interesting to note Gautrain which transports less than 150 000 people per day receives R1,6 Billion in Government Subsidy from taxpayers while the Taxi Industry which transports 15 Million People a day or 26% of SA’s Population receives No Government Subsidy. #TaxiStrike.” The tweet gained traction with 1 200 retweets and 2 800 likes.
On the same day, @AdvBarryRoux tweeted: “Santaco says it regrets leaving commuters stranded this morning. Taxi drivers say the want R20 000 per taxi from government (around R5 billion), which is far from what's being offered currently (R1 billion) #Taxistrike.” The tweet received 98 retweets and 376 likes.
In a thought-provoking post invoking South Africa’s Apartheid history, @SizweDhlomo pointed out that the government’s failure to provide suitable public transport for the people affected by historical spatial planning is why the Taxi Industry exists in the first place. Tweeted at 11:52, Dhlomo’s post received over 2 000 retweets. Responding to Dhlomo, some commentators felt that the government is not to blame. Some felt that SANTACO is at fault, while others blamed taxi bosses for being violent individuals, out of the government’s control. @robzinterris commented that Dhlomo would make a good leader and that the people would vote for him, so long as he ensures that the taxi industry pays taxes.
Earlier in the day, @SATaxis [tweeted](https://twitter.com/SATaxis/status/1274961800807751681) that the taxi industry does contribute to taxes through the manufacturing industry, saying that they buy 1 000 vehicles a month, inclusive of VAT. This post was retweeted 2 000 times and received over 3 000 likes. However, not all commenting on the issue showed support. @TygressAndy commented that South Africans are tired of unroadworthy taxis with falling doors and disrespectful, rule-breaking taxi drivers. This comment was retweeted 185 times and received 1 400 likes.
The army was deployed to contain protests sparked by the taxi strike. Journalist @tshepimoche, shared a video of their presence in a tweet saying: “VIDEO: Soldiers and SAPS ordering protesting taxi operators to open the road in 5 minutes #Taxistrike #sabcnews”. The tweet received 3 200 retweets and 5 000 likes.
Some Twitter users expressed approval over the army’s deployment. @EricanSA shared a video depicting army personnel in a tweet that read: “SANDF must just sort out these taxi drivers once and for all. #TaxiStrike #TaxiShutdown”. The tweet generated 9 retweets and 21 likes.
Other Twitter users expressed dissent over the army’s involvement in a civilian protest. Former EFF national spokesperson @MbuyiseniNdlozi, shared a tweet saying: “We can’t celebrate the army being deployed on civilian protesters! There are absolutely no grounds whatsoever for the army to be dispersing the #Taxistrike. It is an abuse of power, whether you agree with the protest or not!”. The tweet received 1 100 retweets and 4 800 likes.
Two stories contributed to this theme. The first, regarding alleged corruption in Hout Bay, drove volume under “people”, the largest topic today, with over 74 000 mentions. The second story highlights the impact of corruption, following the death of a child in a pit latrine. This story drove volume in the third largest topic, “time”, with over 34 000 mentions.
The first story alleges that money raised by a fundraiser for Imizamo Yethu, a informal settlement in Hout Bay in the Western Cape, was stolen. @RWTee tweeted: “A few years back, the White people of Hout Bay started a fund raiser to help the community of Izama Yethu. When the BIG day arrived, these good people handed over the funds to the Izama Yethu leaders. Then the leaders ran away with all the money. The end”. The tweet received almost 230 retweets and over 600 likes.
The second story to gain traction was based on an article published by @CityPress on 22 June 2020 reported the drowning of an 11-year old girl in a pit toilet, and described how her death could have been avoided if there had not been an alleged 8-year delay in infrastructure funding. @ABSpice shared the article with the caption, “next time you think corruption is victimless”. The tweet received almost 180 likes and 247 retweets.
In his daily COVID-19 updates the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that South Africa has breached the 100 000 COVID-19 cases mark. He tweeted: “As of today, the cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has breached the 100 000 mark, at 101 590. The total number of deaths is 1 991 and the total number of recoveries is 53 444.” The tweet received 666 retweets, 635 likes and 144 comments. Twitter user, @Rene asked if this means we have reached the peak, while @shego voiced her frustration as she cursed the first few South Africans who were infected with COVID-19: “a big fuck you, once again, to those 10 people who went to italy”. The tweet received 13 200 likes, 4 200 retweets and 114 comments.
Cassper Nyovest took to Twitter to announce the upcoming arrival of his son: “I'm going to be a father Any Minute Now so I decided 2 name my album #AMN (Any Minute Now). The album cover is an actual scan of my son in his beautiful mother's womb. Excited about dis album but I'm more excited bout being a dad 2 a beautiful baby boy. #AMN drops September 11th.” The tweet received 13 000 retweets, 61 700 likes and 3 700 comments, mostly filled with congratulatory posts. Fellow Hip Hop artist Riky Rick also posted: “Congratulations @casspernyovest and Thobeka on the bundle of joy you’ve been blessed with. Best wishes for a lifetime of love and happiness. God Is God❤❤❤”. The tweet received 13 500 likes, 1 300 retweets and 127 comments. Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi, also congratulated Cassper on his announcement: “Congratulations Abuti!”. Cassper responded with: “Thank you. A whole congratulations from Miss Universe? My son is already soooo blessed. What a time!!! Wow!!!! God is good.” Their Twitter interaction recieved 16 000 likes and 963 retweets.
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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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