Budget Speech 2017: Google Trends highlights South Africa’s concerns

south africa google trends budget speech flowcomm flickr

Google is an integral part of the internet and, well, searching for information on the internet. So when you apply the search giant’s extensive trends system to societal issues in South Africa, you almost always get interesting results.

This week’s buzz has centred on the Budget Speech, a public address that South Africa’s finance minister Pravin Gordhan will deliver at 2pm today. Understandably, people are wondering just what Gordhan will deliver.

We have a fairly good idea that taxation, government programmes and general national talking points (like education) will be raised, so to garner a better understanding of what’s pressing South Africans’ keyboards, we took a look at how popular a number of talking points are on South African Google.

Here’s what we found.

South Africa’s taxation

Do I really want to pay more for that fizzy drink?

There’s some suggestion that Gordhan will increase personal income tax and the fuel levy, while also implementing a sugar tax. Seemingly, it was the latter that grabbed users’ attention this week on Google with marked spike earlier today. It was also the most popular of our surveyed search terms in Gauteng and the Western Cape — the country’s two economic powerhouse provinces

While “VAT” largely outweighed other search terms, “Personal Income Tax” also saw a number of spikes this week.

The Politicians

What would the Budget Speech be without its politicians?

Interestingly, while Pravin Gordhan is the financial chief delivering the speech, President Jacob Zuma is leading the search traffic charge (and the actual country). That was until around 20 February though, when Gordhan gained search weight in the lead-up to the speech.

We also included Parliament’s Speaker of the House Baleka Mbete, the deputy President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, and prospective-parliamentarian Brian Molefe. Notably, the latter saw this biggest spike in search this week, largely thanks to his future appointment as a member of parliament.

Related queries alongside Molefe included Jacob Zuma and Pravin Gordhan, who Molefe is rumoured to be replacing.

Molefe also happens to be the most-searched politician on our list in the North West — the only province that didn’t feature Jacob Zuma as a top search.

The concerns of South Africans

South Africans’ concerns might vary between city to city, but there are common concerns for all within our borders.

Land redistribution, the slowing economy, the education sector and unemployment are just some of the issues plaguing the country. And these are being highlighted in search trends.

For Mpumalanga and Limpopo residents, “unemployment” is a major issue. In the other provinces, this is largely outweighed by “health”.

Limpopo actually featured in the top three for every search term on the list, highlighting the length and breadth of the province’s concerns.

As for the Western Cape, well, it didn’t feature on any of the lists.

Government programmes

Finally, we took a look at government programmes.

SASSA and NFSAS have received a fair bit of press this week, and it shows in search.

South Africa’s social grant programme SASSA featured heavily in search across the country this week, but came to prominence for searchers in the Northern Cape and Limpopo. Related searches “Child Support Grant” and “SASSA Grant Requirements” have also increased by over 300% this week.

The NHI (National Health Insurance) programme also garnered some search interest, namely for the country’s coastal provinces and Gauteng.

Feature image: flowcomm via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


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