These were just some of the takeaways from this week’s elections as it played out across Mzansi social media - pre, during and post the #SAelections2019.
As the country took to the polls in the sixth democratic elections on May 8, the Twitterverse, Facebook and Instagram all waxed lyrical on everything from the lack of service delivery, the Zuma era and land expropriation, to load shedding, state capture and incessant spam calls from the DA.
This, as a Game of Thrones-type scenario unfolded in real time on the political battlefield, with 48 political parties fighting for the coveted Iron Throne seat of power - which, according to final elections results, King Cyril Ramaphosa of House ANC successfully managed to retain post the hotly-contested elections.
Ramaphosa also enjoyed the most favourable commentary from users on social media in the run-up to Election Day 2019, as compared to that of EFF leader Julius Malema and DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
In recent years, social media has become a barometer for public sentiment and discourse in South Africa, and none more so than during the #SAelections2019 - a trending topic on Twitter all week.
According to Google Trends, “South African elections 2019”, “voting stations near me” and “can I vote anywhere” were among the most popular searches by South Africans on voting day.
Honorable search mentions go to Maimane (the most searched for politician on election day), the ACDP and jumping the gun with this one on-day - “election results”.
In an era of fake news, South Africans chose to wield their digital powers for the greater good - and in typical South African comedic style.
Memes have become the lingua franca of the modern political campaign, delivering instant commentary, satire and laugh-out-loud (LOL) humour and savagery that only South Africans (read: Black Twitter) can manifest.
Manipulating thought processes and injecting a much-needed dose of hilarity into the election discourse, the political potency of Mzansi’s election memes also proved that 25 years after democracy, the country is not afraid to speak its truth by converging politics with humour, and a healthy dose of irony and outrage thrown in for good measure. The 2019 elections highlighted that political discussions online were less ideological and more tongue-in-cheek for South Africans, with memes proving to be less trivial and more effective as diversified communication tools with a dash of humour.
On Election Day we saw voter apathy being replaced with national pride in the form of ink-marked, (mostly unmanicured) digits which symbolised the support for democracy.
Timelines were awash with thumb selfies, which, if you suffer from chirophobia (a fear of hands), would’ve sent you seeking refuge in the comforting arms of a smaller political party.
There was even some political pop culture attracting viral fame in the form of a rap parody and music video by Cape Town band, The Kiffness, called Mmusi Maimane, a new overnight anthem for DA voters.
“Mmusi Maimane, Mmusi Maimane,
I wanna get my money so I vote for Mmusi Maimane.
All these other haters shop at Pick * Pay. You can shop at Woolworths when you vote DA.
No more corn flakes when you vote for Mmusi. Vote for DA eating Woolworths muesli.
All these others haters voting ANC,” is one earworm that’s become as incessant as the DA’s cold-calling during their election campaigns.
By Saturday, hashtags including #AfterVotingIExpect dominated feeds with social media users creating memes that begged the question of political parties: “what now?”
The paradigm shift online has been towards the meme-fication of politics and the future of political messaging by harvesting real-time sentiment from audiences across all social media platforms.
Thanks to the immediacy of social media, we’ve been able to see how election fever has affected thousands of South Africans, and gain perspective into the political mindsets of the masses. Whereas in previous elections the narrative has been “my vote, my secret”, these elections saw many people openly sharing which party they voted for.
If Twitter likes and retweets counted as votes, the country would be awash in a sea of red berets courtesy of the EFF and their loyal band of supporters who dominated timelines with revolutionary commentary and radical memes.
These are just some of the good, the bad and the ugly (thumbs) as seen on social media during election week.