With very little fanfare, the office of the South African Presidency, in a fitting move — not via a press-conference or a press release but via a tweet – announced that Jacob Zuma had joined Twitter. His first, and at the time of writing, only tweet was:
His “lack of activity” since then has not slowed his rapidly growing follower count however – after being live for just four hours, his follower count stood at close on 4000.
Presidential spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa is quoted on South African news website, TimesLIVE as saying, “Yes, it is the legitimate account for President Zuma.” He added that “[He] decided to join the world of Twitter to better communicate his activities and reach a wider audience both young and old, domestic and abroad.”
Though much confusion was expressed on Twitter as to why another account had been created, as a general Presidency account already exists, it was explained by aides that this new account will be “in his capacity as President” as an individual, as opposed to the other which was that of his office.
Aides have also said, according to TimesLIVE, that the account would be used to “communicate brief excerpts of speeches or highlight something”.
When asked the burning question, whether he would be tweeting himself, aides said that though not every update would personally be tweeted by him, “if he gets time at some point, he will do it”.
Zuma joins a fast growing list of world leaders on Twitter, from Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to Venezulean President Hugo Chavez and of course, the US’s President Barack Obama.
The full list of verified world leaders, curated by Twitter can be found here.
Below is a selection of tweets from South Africans reacting to President Zuma joining Twitter:
One of South Africa’s most followed users, radio DJ, Gareth Cliff tweeted, a sentiment most shared:
A tweet, which was heavily retweeted, brought the case of South African photojournalist, Anton Hammerl, who is still missing in Libya, to the fore:
Award winning journalist Mandy Wiener was quick to ask the question everyone wanted to know:
Others tried to trade off their votes in the upcoming local government elections in return for a Presidential follow:
There were tweets looking forward to a showdown or twar (Twitter war) between him and his political rival, Helen Zille, a long-time user of Twitter….
…whilst others mused over his ability to stick to Twitter’s 140 character limit.