Durban - President Jacob Zuma loves singing and dancing, and in July his Twitter account set the Twitterverse alight with a tweet lamenting he was missing out on SA Idols.
The tweet from @PresidencyZA – the Presidency’s verified Twitter handle – was: “OH NO!!! I’m missing out on @IdolsSA. I’m far away in another timezone #sadness”.
Two hours later, the Presidency tweeted: “The last Tweet was not an official Tweet from the Presidency or the president, but rather an administrative error. Our apologies.”
The president’s Tweeps were not forgiving.
Mike Sharman (@MarkSharman) tweeted: “Idols shouldn’t be your priority.”
Some of the Tweeps rode on the “administrative error” wave by responding with Tweets such as Ntshadi Mofokeng (@Ntsha_diMM): “Limpopo students failed mid-year exams. Is it due to administrative error on textbooks? #sadness.”
Political analyst Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) used the administrative error to mock the medical parole of Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik. He tweeted: “Tweet frm Shaik, ‘Excuse my early release frm prison, fellow citizens. It was an administrative error.’ Lmao.”
Former government spokesman Thabo Masebe said the Tweet had come from a woman who was managing the Presidency Twitter account. He also confirmed that the woman was forgiven for her tweet.
The leader of the opposition DA, Helen Zille (@helenzille), also sparked social media controversy when she tweeted: “While ECape education collapsed, WC built 30 schools – 22 new, 8 replacements mainly 4 ECape edu refugees. 26 more schools coming.”
She was referring to the growing number of Eastern Cape pupils who had come to study in the Western Cape.
Twitter users condemned her use of the word “refugee”.
Xolani Xabashe (@xolanixabashe) said: “I thought in our country we were long time gone from name calling and labelling people who live in our beautiful SA refugees. Really!”.
Another said: “Ironic. when Jimmy Manyi made an insensitive comment about Cape coloureds last year, Helen and Co had a baby over it. Now it’s her turn.”
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu tweeted: “Zille’s racist statement underpins the DA’s policy of exclusionism of blacks. She will never say the same thing about whites who relocate from one area of the country to the Western Cape or even those who relocate from other countries to the Western Cape. To reduce South Africans who have free movement in their own country to refugees is tantamount to instigating against them by labelling them with a tag associated with foreigners.”
After two days of trying to defend her tweet, she withdrew it and apologised: “I’m very sorry because it was never meant in that context at all and was never said in that way at all.”
Models were not left out of the controversies of Twitter.
Jessica Leandra dos Santos (@JessicaLeandra), one of the FHM 2011 model of the year finalists, tweeted this over a black man who had allegedly made a pass at her: “Just, well took on an arrogant and disrespectful k***** inside Spar. Should have punched him, should have.”
She later deleted the tweet and apologised on her blog.
“I tweeted rather irresponsibly about an incident I encountered last night, using a harsh and unkind word about the gentleman who had confronted me with sexual remarks and sounds.
“While most of you would enjoy the opportunity to throw a few vicious words at me, please do understand that I was acting in pure anger and frustration at the time, and although we know this is no excuse, it is a lesson learnt, and again, I am sincerely apologetic,” said her statement.
FHM immediately announced they would cut all ties with Leandra, while QuickTrim South Africa ended their long-term sponsorship of her.
Despite Leandra’s apology, SA’s Twitter community was still not happy. “Dear Jessica, when your apology has excuses, it’s no longer an apology,” one tweet read.
A response to Leandra by model Tshidi Thamana (@Tshidi_Thamana) made matters even worse when Thamana tweeted: “Dear Mr Peter Mokaba? I wish all whites had been killed when you sang ‘Kill the Boer’, then we wouldn’t have to experience @JessicaLeandra’s racism.”
She was also labelled a racist and tried defending her tweet by saying: “Dear all… why do people think I am a racist when I said it was wrong to be racist SMH [shaking my head]… Really!”
The two later reconciled after a meeting with DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane at his home.
During the Diwali celebrations, a Miss Ballito finalist, Caroline Ashworth, found herself on the wrong side of social media when she posted on her Facebook account about how irritated she was with Diwali fireworks: “To the Indians who call this celebrating, seriously this is f#cking (sic) ridiculous!! I hate you people letting off fireworks! So inconsiderate – you don’t deserve health, wealth, prosperity or any other of the things that Diwali is supposed to bring you!!!”
H=Ashworth’s comments were met with great criticism, from newspaper letters to the editor and also on BackChat, with readers labelling her religiously insensitive. She later apologised for her comments. She also claimed she received death and gang-rape threats.
Her status even drew the attention of businessman Vivian Reddy, who said he would refer the matter to the Human Rights Commission.
McIntosh Polela, the now-suspended Hawks spokesman, also became the victim of irresponsible tweeting when hip-hop artist Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye and his friend Themba Tshabalala were found guilty of the deaths of four Soweto high school pupils when they crashed into them while drag racing. Polela (@toshpolela) tweeted: “I trust that Jub Jub’s supporters gave him a jar of Vaseline to take to prison.” The tweet was met with much criticism, saying his tweet implied that Maarohanye would be raped in jail.
Polela later apologised. “My tweet about Jub Jub on Tuesday nite was in poor taste.I profoundly regret posting & hereby retract it. Je suis desole (I’m sorry).” However, that did not stop him from being suspended from the Hawks.
Another public figure caught offside on Twitter streets was eNews Channel Africa sport anchor Lance Witten (@LanceWitten). After a woman died at Cape Town Stadium during a Linkin Park concert, he tweeted: “Linkin Park is so badass, people are dying to see ’em.” After an attack from his followers, he apologised and deleted the tweet.
Cape Talk’s radio jock Kieno Kammies (@KienoKammies) tweeted: “Engage your brain dude, poor form and disgusting.”
Another tweet, by Julia Sham (@JuliaSham), stated: “What is with people? Do we really live amongst so many insensitive morons? I worry about our fellow humans.”
Witten was suspended by the eNews channel pending an internal disciplinary decision, and has since resumed his duties after serving his suspension.
Durban’s Olympic gold medallist, Chad le Clos, has to be SA’s social media highlight. After winning his 200m butterfly race, beating his childhood hero Michael Phelps during the London Olympics, Le Clos’s Twitter account grew from fewer than 10 000 followers to more than 43 000 on that victorious evening. In August, Le Clos was crowned the most Googled personality in South Africa. He currently has more than 88 000 Twitter followers.
It wasn’t only the younger Le Clos who captured the hearts of the social media users – his father Bert became a Twitter sensation too when, after his son’s victory, during a live BBC broadcast, he was captured saying: “Unbelievable, unbelievable! And look at him, he’s beautiful, I love you.”
He trended on Twitter with tweets such as this one from @RogerHighfiled: “Is there an Olympic event for proud dads? Give the gold to Bert le Clos.” The clip went viral on sport site Deadspin, and has been viewed 377 816 times.
The 2012 London Olympics received over 150 million tweets about the games during the 16-day event. Usain Bolt became the most talked about Olympian, with more than 80 000 tweets a minute when he won his 200m sprint. - Daily News