President Jacob Zuma. (Themba Hadebe, AP, file)
Cape Town – A national survey has revealed that South Africans on social media are united in their opposition against President Jacob Zuma following his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week.
According to local data company BrandsEye, national sentiment on social media peaked at 23.4% negative versus 0.5% positive following the speech.
“One of the hypotheses I have about social media is ‘how you feel today influences what you decide tomorrow’. We’ve seen this ring true in both commercial and political environments. We see this when looking into churn for subscription based businesses, and we also saw it ahead of the 2014 elections in SA,” JP Kloppers, BrandsEye chief executive told Fin24 about the survey.
He added that the previous election cycle demonstrated that social media users identified with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) over Agang.
“These metrics were a clear indicator of which direction the vote was going to move: (the) ANC would decrease, DA would increase, and the EFF would do significantly better than Agang.”
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Data from the Independent Electoral Commission shows that the African National Congress (ANC) won 62.15% of the vote and the leading opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) 22.23% in 2014. The EFF won 6.35% and Agang 0.28%.
In 2009, the ANC won 65.9% and the DA 18% - the only parties to win double figures of the vote.
However, sentiment of social media is largely an indicator of people who are active on the internet.
According to Research ICT Africa, just 19.7% of South Africans live in a household with internet access of which only 22% have ADSL broadband access.
Similarly, while 84% of South Africans have a mobile phone, just 33.7% use the device to access internet content, the organisation found.
While sentiment on Zuma’s handling of the economy was strongly negative at 42.6% (0.2% positive) Kloppers conceded that local social networks are not a reflection of national demographics.
“You can see that social media still has some way to go to be representative of the SA population. Again though, I would add another question, which is ‘How influential are the opinions being shared on social media?’ Bear in mind that these stats for SONA16 are from only 48 000 people commenting.”
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