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We all know about the celebrated political social media campaign that played a part in putting US President Barack Obama in the White House. It was unprecedented, using advanced social networking functionality and integration with social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Politicians today realise that Facebook, in particular, is a platform they cannot ignore. It’s where many of society’s influencers and do-ers hang out. If you consider that there are now nearly three-million South Africans on Facebook, that’s quite a few votes to influence.
Politicians are supposed to be elected to public office to speak for the people and to represent their best interests. But all too often, they disappear into the hallowed halls of power and go silent, only to reappear moments before the next election. Social tools like Twitter and Facebook have altered all of that, providing us with somewhat of a direct line (if not a little fuzzy) to politicians. Now you can speak directly to those in power and hold them accountable. Or can you?
Memeburn searched high-and-low to find the Twitter and Facebook accounts of some of the more tech-savvy South African leaders. There are plenty of fake accounts out there, but these are the real-deal.
Politicians on Twitter:
Twitter Bio: This is the official Twitter page of The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa.
South Africa’s presidency appears to be online and social media savvy. The official Twitter account of the South African Presidency, with more than 4 000 followers, is active and a must-follow. The Twitter account features a day-to-day account of President Jacob Zuma and other high-ranking ministers’ whereabouts and official appearances.
It also features links to press releases and other interesting info. It’s formal and dignified, as befits the presidency of the republic. We’re surprised that it doesn’t have more followers.
Name Malusi Gigaba
Twitter Bio: Minister of Public Enterprises – Republic of South Africa
The former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs was gifted with a promotion to Minister of Public Enterprises, but had yet to tweet about it at the time of writing. Gigaba actually tweets fairly regularly with strong some strong opinions. It’s a responsive and active account, and also the source of rich political commentary like: “The merger of DA and ID would not solve the race question in the DA. The recent DA Congress reaffirmed its status quo.” Here’s a Tweet on the ANC’s stance on tensions within the ruling alliance: “It’s not possible to be ANC and be anti-communists. Equally communists must be exemplary in their conduct.” Useful information about the ministry’s official visits and radio and TV appearances are also tweeted.
Name Helen Zille
Twitter Bio:Western Cape Premier and Leader of South Africa’s official opposition party, The Democratic Alliance.
Helen Zille has an extremely active account for a South African politician and seems to have embraced Twitter fully. With about 15 000 followers, Zille also claims to have had one of the first local “verified accounts”, a claim she made while making an official appearance at a blog awards ceremony this year. This is one social-media savvy politician. Memeburn interviewed her a few months ago about her Twitter use and was impressed by her grasp of the medium.
Zille’s party, the official opposition DA, has a strong presence on social networks like Twitter and Facebook reflecting the party’s largely middle-class, urban constituency.
Name Lindiwe Mazibuko
Twitter Bio: Member of Parliament for North Durban; Democratic Alliance National Spokesperson; Self described “baker, mover, shaker; hopeless romantic”.
Lindiwe Mazibuko is currently the National Spokesperson for the opposition DA, and the party’s shadow deputy minister for communications. Mazibuko is South Africa’s fourth youngest parliamentarian, so it’s no wonder she’s a mover and shaker on Twitter too. She’s funny, smart and really plugged-in, although her blog, Princess Shorty, has fallen quiet. But this MP is very active on Twitter and may just take the title of the hippest MP around.
Name Jay Naidoo
Twitter Bio: An ANC politician and co-founder of the J&J Group, Chairperson of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and former Minister of State and political activist.
This former minister was responsible for the Reconstruction and Development Programme during President Mandela’s tenure and held the post of Minister of Telecommunications and Broadcasting. Naidoo’s Twitter account has a mixture of political commentary, like this: “Lula-a president to vote 4- 12 m jobs in his 8 yrs & 20 m people out of poverty. Will not change constitut even if people want him 2” and a few pearls of wisdom, like this: “‘Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain’. Wisdom to live by.” Worth a follow.
Name Elza van Lingen
Twitter Bio: Since May 2009, Elza has been a DA parliamentarian and works as permanent delegate for the Eastern Cape in National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
A regular tweeter, Elza is currently the DA’s Eastern Cape finance chairperson and serves as the party representative on the provincial executive and the federal finance committee. She’s active on Twitter but her tweets tend to be rather negative, focussing on everything that’s wrong with the country. Could I have that glass of water half full please?
Name Gareth Morgan
Twitter Bio: South African MP, Shadow Minister of Water & Environmental Affairs
Morgan tweets about climate change, water and energy affairs. He’s a member of the GLOBE Climate Dialogue, and has represented the South African parliament at six GLOBE meetings around the world. Like Van Lingen, his tweets tend to be a bit downbeat for us.
Name Greg Krumbock
Twitter Bio: Member of Parliament, Shadow Minister of Tourism, On the ball for the World Cup
Krumbock is an infrequent tweeter and in fact, has fallen silent since the 2010 Fifa World Cup. In fact, his last tweet was on the day of the World Cup Final. He was originally appointed by the DA in 1998 as Executive Director of the party. In 1999 he was elected to parliament and has served ever since.
Name John Steenhuisen
Twitter Bio: Steenhuisen is the leader of the Democratic Alliance in KZN and in the KZN legislature.
Another infrequent tweeter, Steenhuisen has written very few tweets and they tend to be unrelated to politics and mostly about rugby.
Name Grant Pascoe
Twitter Bio: Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development in the City of Cape Town & DA Metro Chairperson
Grant Pascoe serves on Cape Town’s mayoral committee, and is worth following since he’s very active and passionate with many interesting tweets and links. He also responds to questions regularly, and his passion for the work he does comes across strongly.
Name ANC Info Feed
Twitter Bio: This is the official African National Congress Twitter feed.
The official Twitter feed of the country’s ruling party started with a bang, then went dead in the middle of the year. It looks like it has been recently revived with a couple of recent Tweets about ANC events and reports released, such as “ANC NGC 2010 Day One: Report on the State of the Organisation by ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe – http://tinyurl.com/37qt9h3“ At the time of Memeburn looking at it though, it had failed to update in two weeks. Surely there must be more going on?
Name Ian Ollis
Twitter Bio: South African, innovative leader and DA Member of Parliament.
An active and twitter-savvy parliamentarian. Has some interesting and funny updates, definitely worth a look.
Name Tim Harris
Twitter Bio: Backbencher, Surfer, African Traveller, Capetonian
Active tweeter and currently a Democratic Alliance member of Parliament’s National Council of Provinces, where he sits on the select committee on finance. He was also chief of staff to then party leader Tony Leon and is well-informed. How many MP’s do you know that would send a tweet like this: “This is brilliant: Ian Roberts, Jack Parow & Rian Malan in a boereorkes zombie braai-fest: “Blaas jou vuvuzela”.
Name DA Bhisho
Twitter Bio: Eastern Cape Legislature.
This is the official account of the DA’s Eastern Cape legislature team. While it might be a “group account” it’s worth a follow since they are extremely active as far as posting goes. It’s a shame that they have so few followers, considering how informative their feed is about the issues facing the Eastern Cape.
Name Democratic Alliance
Twitter Bio: The latest news from the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s official opposition, and party of government in the Western Cape.
South Africa’s largest opposition party uses its group Twitter account to spread its press releases.
- Mbhazima Shilowa | Facebook Page
Shilowa is the embattled deputy president of new opposition political party, COPE. Largely shunning Twitter, COPE is a big Facebook user with a healthy Fan base on their official page. Sadly Cope’s Facebook presence has become known more for mudslinging and controversy, than innovation. Shilowa’s profile was set to private when we initially found it, which is a bit strange for a public figure. But we added him as a friend and were quickly accepted. Shilowa’s favourite quote, on his Facebook profile page, is one by Karl Marx: “Man make history but not under their own choosing”.
- Pravin Gordhan
Pravin Gordhan, the current Minister of Finance, has a Facebook Page instead of a profile with about 850 people who like the page. The page is informative, although the Minister sees to only update his status once a month, but his followers use the page quite actively.
- Dianne Kohler-Barnard
Dianne Kohler Barnard, DA shadow Minister of Police, has an extremely active Facebook profile with 1200 followers. Wall posts are mainly related to the job, but every now and again there are some funny posts:
“So – last meeting of the week – the Federal Executive…sitting here in Parliament – Greg Krumbok to the right of me, and Sizwe Mchunu on the left…together with the entire top structure of the party. Utterly fascinating…and of course Helen saying she knew I’d gloat about the rugby…which I didn’t hesitate to do.”
- Sello Moloto
Moloto is a member of the Limpopo Legislature. His account isn’t terribly active and most of the activity on the wall appears to be from his followers.
- Nick Koornhof
Another COPE member on Facebook with privacy set to full, yet he accepted our friend request after a couple of days. His account is rather sparse with very little info and almost no activity. Koornhof has just 146 friends leading to a fairly-bleak looking wall as well. Not really worth the wait of the friend request.
- Leonard Ramatlakane
MEC Leonard Ramatlakane was also locked down tight when it came to privacy, but when we finally got accepted as friends we found that Ramatlakane was actually pretty active even-though most of what’s on the wall is just political rhetoric. One major difference we found is that Ramatlakane has a landline and mobile number under his info, so if you’d like to give him a call it’s worth the friend request.
- Bantu Holomisa | Facebook Page
Bantu Holomisa is a rugby fanatic, promoter of education, protector of the environment, fighter for South Africans and a corruption free individual and a Kaizer Chiefs fan. He has both a Facebook Page and a profile. The page is a little quiet, while he posts almost 5 000 friends on his profile.
- Anele Mda
Full privacy, locked tight but fast to accept us as a friend, and with over 4 000 friends, she’s clearly doing something right. Right now she’s a member of COPE but things move fast in that party and by the time you read this, she may be somewhere else. Mda’s favourite quote is: “I have fought against white domination, I have fought against black domination, I have cherished the ideas of a free society where all people live together in harmony…” One problem though, she attributes the quote to former president Thabo Mbeki. It was Nelson Mandela who said those famous words.
- Nikiwe Num
Nikiwe Num is the Cope leader in the North-West. Her profile is open to the public, informative and up to date. She’s also got “How Stella got her groove back” listed as a favourite movie, go and add her.
Politicians on Facebook:
Mosiuoa Lekota | Facebook Page
Lekota is the president of COPE and locked in a very public and rather bitter struggle with Shilowa. We noted however that they are “friends” on Facebook. Lekota has a mere 300 Facebook friends but he is beginning to use the page regularly and interacts with his supporters on his wall in a friendly and approachable manner.