Friday’s proposed #NationalShutdown gains traction on social media

south africa #nationalshutdown

The past few days in South Africa have been tumultuous to say the least. We haven’t seen protests or mass mobilisation from the public (at least not yet anyway), but the country’s nearly eight-million Twitter users have seemingly had enough, whichever side of the fence they may stand.

#NationalShutdown began trending on Twitter across South Africa at 11am SAST, at the same time the ANC National Working Committee was due to address media regarding leaked minutes from an internal meeting.

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The ANC labelled this leak as “erroneous communication” late Tuesday evening, which also revealed the party’s stance on its leadership structure, its views on Cosatu and the SACP, and the “sustained destabilisation of the ANC since 2012”.

The notes, and comments made by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte and spokesperson Zizi Kodwa haven’t sat well with South Africans.

#NationalShutdown and #junkstatus: hashtags as social mouthpieces

Many users used the hashtag to express their disdain at the ANC’s stance alongside President Jacob Zuma, and threatened to ditch the party in future elections. Others called the current South African leadership structure a “dictatorship”.

South Africa’s politicians have also weighed in, most notably EFF’s leader Julius Malema, who labelled Gwede Mantashe a “dubious old man”.

However not everyone on the social network was buying the #NationalShutdown rhetoric.

Some questioned the sudden patriotism, and criticised the lack of support from privileged South Africans during the #FeesMustFall movement or the land ownership debate. Others questioned the real reasoning behind the #NationalShutdown — political or financial?

Another posed this idea…

Ultimately, the notion of a “national shutdown” isn’t to be taken lightly. Just last year, Zimbabwe’s citizens engaged in a similar stay-away protest in August using the hashtag #ThisFlag in protest. Their access to a number of social media networks was hampered, with many believing that the government played a part.

Additionally, the Government has noted that the stay-away will impact the country’s “fragile economy”.

The value of the Rand has dropped by over R1.50 to the US Dollar since 27 March. The country was also given the investor rating status of “junk” by ratings agency Standard & Poor earlier this week.

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