Politics

Whose words count the most? Here's a breakdown of SA ministers' clout on Twitter

Whose words count the most? Here's a breakdown of SA ministers' clout on Twitter

Of SA's government leaders, transport minister Fikile Mbalula and President Cyril Ramaphosa have the most Twitter followers.

The outspoken Mbalula has 2.3 million followers, while the president boasts 1.7 million.

Recipe-sharing finance minister Tito Mboweni is third with 961,000 people eager to hear his views, followed by national health minister Zweli Mkhize, with 500,000 people staying up to date on how he is dealing with challenges including the coronavirus pandemic.

Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe (437,000) rounds out the top five most followed cabinet ministers in SA.

This is according to the South African Government Leaders on Twitter 2020 Report, released on Thursday by #GovCommsSocial, a knowledge sharing platform, which is an initiative of Decode Communications supported by Brand South Africa.

There are four million people in SA viewed as active tweeters.

“Though Facebook has the most number of users in SA, like in many other countries, Twitter is the most news-friendly social media platform,” says the report's authors.

“Twitter remains the most influential platform used as a channel for news and prompt information sharing by politicians, government leaders, public representatives, media and communication professionals, journalists and newsrooms. Twitter's influence has been elevated by its ability to provide a platform for real-time outrage, consumer activism, social mobilisation by brands and governments.”

Of the 30-strong cabinet, the report states seven ministers are not on Twitter. Two of the 23 on Twitter have inactive accounts; 10 have more than 100,000 followers; six have less than 5,000 followers; and three joined since the start of the sixth administration in 2019. Just 16 accounts are verified.

Of the ministers' spokespeople, five out of 30 are not on Twitter. Eight of the 25 who are on the platform have inactive accounts.

The most followed is Masechaba Khumalo of sports, arts and culture, who has 473,600 followers.

The report excluded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, who has been on leave of absence after allegations of her husband’s involvement in an alleged PPE tender scandal. At the time of collating the data, Khusela Diko had 123,400 followers, which would have made her the next most followed after Khumalo.

In provincial government, the five most followed accounts are Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi (281,400) and his premier David Makhura (192,300), followed by KwaZulu-Natal's premier Sihle Zikalala (62,700), then Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko (40,900) and Western Cape premier Alan Winde (40,400).

The majority of Twitter accounts of South African government leaders are still not verified, the report states, meaning they are “missing the opportunity to be trusted sources even in times where misinformation and disinformation are becoming pervasive and worrying”.

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