Photo: Yu-Shan Wu I Source: linkedin.com
Despite the increase in social media in South Africa, Yu-Shan Wu, researcher at SAAIA, feels “neither the South African government nor the public are using social media as vigorously as elsewhere,” the Mail & Guardian reported.
Wu criticised the government for not responding to Facebook posts, referring to South African president Jacob Zuma’s Facebook page, overpopulated by unanswered queries.
In contrast, she pointed to Malusi Gigaba, minister of Public Enterprises, who employs Twitter for public interaction as a good example of political social media activity.
She recommended political leaders should take the lead: “As the political leadership adapts to new public diplomacy strategies, citizens will acquaint themselves more and more with new technology.
“Leadership will have to engage with the maturing born-free, post-1994 generation — an important constituency less motivated by memories of the liberation struggle and more fixated on socioeconomic delivery.”
She identifies the upcoming 2014 election and potential social media consultation following the launch of Agang, Mamphela Ramphele’s new political party, as opportunities for imminent social media engagement.
HumanIPO reported on Ramphele’s acknowledgement of social media as a significant tool in raising support for her political party.
Acknowledging the challenges of the country as multicultural with vast socioeconomic differences in wealth and poverty, Wu concludes interaction will also fluctuate.
However, with 90 per cent of the population active on internet-enabled mobile phones in 2011, a 58 per cent increase since 2001, the platform for social media engagement is considered sufficient for increased interaction.
Sourced from the first Twitter African map of Portland Communications, the statistics also reveal South Africa is the most social network active country on the continent.
Nevertheless, Wu regards the online social community engagement of China and the United States as examples to aspire to.
“Social media is what you make of it,” she pointed out. “The pieces of the game exist but the users ultimately make the rules.”
HumanIPO reported on Swaziland’s use of Facebook in the upcoming undemocratic election.
Furthermore, the recent Kenyan election had social media buzzing for more than a month.
The SAIIA is an independent, international research institute which aims to inspire debate and create awareness of global matters of note.