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Cape Town - What started as a gallant effort to rally pride for the ANC on social networks ended in a humiliating hashtag hijacking, as #ProudlyBroughtByANC trended for the second day on Tuesday - and for all the wrong reasons.
It all began when the DA claimed responsibility on Sunday for billboards erected along Joburg freeways, which read: “E-tolls. Proudly brought to you by the ANC.”
ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu took to Twitter on Monday to put a positive spin on the “proudly brought to you by the ANC” phrase.
Tweeting from @JacksonMthembu_ he began with “#ProudlyBroughtByANC Freedom for all South Africans”. In 10 tweets he cited some of the party’s accomplishments, including “You are able to read my tweets #ProudlyBroughtByANC”.
But his attempt at righting the social media ship was quickly commandeered by network users who seemed to suggest Mthembu put the “twit” in Twitter.
References to Nkandla, the so-called Secrecy Bill, the Gupta family, the arms deal, corruption and poor service delivery erupted on Twitter, causing the hashtag to trend for all the wrong reasons.
However, ANC national media liaison Khusela Sangoni-Khawe said the hashtag was a hit, despite no intention on the ANC’s part to launch a campaign in reaction to the e-tolling billboards.
She tweeted from the handle @KhuselaK: “Ok I’m really blonde. Still trying figuring why the media says #ProudlyBroughtByANC flopped. Everyone got to say their say. That’s democracy!”
Later, she said: “The ANC stands for debate and dialogue in society, and we want to give everybody an opportunity to raise their issues.
“It’s afforded the ANC an opportunity to speak about some of its successes and to listen to some of the issues raised.”
Tweets citing successes of the ANC were in the minority.
@Neza4real said: “The freedom to exercise your right even if you use it to mock the ANC was indeed #ProudlyBroughtByANC.”
@MichaelJohnGlov said: “Securing my ability to meaningfully have friends, lovers, teachers, partners, leaders, colleagues outside my ‘race’ #ProudlyBroughtByANC”.
But it was clear the hashtag had been irretrievably hijacked when tweeters took criticism one step further, descending into the downright ridiculous. From Miley Cyrus to the pink Bulls rugby uniform, blaming the ANC was right on trend.
@Jonathan_Witt said: “Dropping your ice cream on the pavement #ProudlyBroughtByANC.”
@rboy24 said: “Bafana Bafana World Ranking #ProudlyBroughtByANC”.
Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the DA in Joburg’s City Council and candidate for the premiership, said the hashtag was an example of democracy in action. “I think it’s a very healthy conversation.”
Cadet News Agency