President Jacob Zuma has joined the millions around the world who use the social networking site Twitter.
Zuma created his Twitter account on Tuesday morning under the user name @SAPresident - and used the platform to remind South Africans to vote during next week’s local government elections.
Zuma’s first tweet read: “Democracy is flourishing in South Africa, thanks to the active participation of all citizens. It’s wonderful. Vote 18 May!”
The Presidency announced Zuma’s entry to the Twitterverse shortly before he began tweeting. “We would like to announce the creation of a Twitter account for President Zuma. Please follow the President on @SAPresident,” it said.
Tweeps (Twitter users) responded to the call and within five hours Zuma had more than 4 000 followers, while he only follows the Presidency.
Presidency spokesman Zizi Kodwa said Zuma had opened his Twitter account “to better inform the South African public of his programmes”.
He said Zuma would update the account whenever “his busy schedule” permitted.
Politicians have turned to social networking sites to spread their message in the build-up to next week’s local government elections, with both the ANC and the DA hosting live question-and-answer sessions on Twitter, where the parties’ leaders answered questions from voters.
But not all politicians are fans of the social networking site. The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) made international headlines in November when it threatened the closure of the site if its administrators did nothing to stop impersonators of its president, Julius Malema.
ANCYL spokesman Floyd Shivambu said it was going to lay charges of fraud against “these impersonators and hackers” creating Twitter accounts in Malema’s name.
“We will look at ways of stopping this … Even if it means going to the police,” said Shivambu at the time, adding that Malema did not have a Twitter account.
Twitter users responded by creating even more “Julius Malema” accounts. - Political Bureau