An analysis of social media around this week’s constitutional court challenge by the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters regarding the powers of the public protector shows the EFF dominating the conversation.
This is according to online media agency 25AM, which has analysed social media conversation since 1 December 2015 about the controversial upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s private homestead at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.
#PayBackTheMoney, a hashtag associated with the EFF, had 22 776 mentions on social media in that time. #SONA, short for “state of the nation address”, had only 10 624 mentions during the same timeframe, according to the findings of 25AM’s research.
The constitutional court heard arguments from counsel representing the DA and EFF on Tuesday about why the public protector’s findings on Nkandla should be binding.
“The conversation on Twitter was driven by news coverage of the topic, with discussion centred on keywords such as Malema, EFF, Guptas and Zuma,” the agency said.
“What we take from this is that South Africans rely on the media for information, but take their discussions about the news to Twitter,” said 25AM CEO Andre Steenekamp. “Perhaps with so many mainstream publications disabling user comments they have nowhere else to go.”
The DA and the EFF both worked hard to drive social media conversations on the topic as the constitutional court heard their legal representatives’ arguments, but it was the EFF that dominated the conversation, mainly as a result of its supporters turning out in droves to protest outside the court, 25AM said.
Despite the high penetration of smartphones, most people engaged on the subject during the working day, the company said.
Conversation about the topic only started to surge when South Africans went to work on the morning of 3 February, the morning after Zuma agreed to pay back money not related to security upgrades at Nkandla. Discussion peaked between lunchtime and 6pm.
Twitter dominated the conversation around hashtags such as #PayBackTheMoney and #NkandlaPayback. From 1 December 2015 to 3 February 2016, there were 16 339 mentions of the #PayBackTheMoney hashtag, 99% of them on Twitter.
Comments with a negative sentiment outweighed positive mentions by more than two to one, 25AM said. — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media