TRENDING: South Africa’s trends report – the weekend

Image of the British Museum in London by Hulki Okan Tabak from Pixabay

This is a summary of the trending, highest impact, and most active themes and their narratives related to social cohesion and division in South African public-domain social media conversations from 5 to 7 June 2020.

Standing up together

As the Black Lives Matter movement and worldwide protests continue to dominate social media conversations, more business leaders are demonstrating their support publicly. 

On Friday Reddit co-founder @alexisohanian announced his resignation in a Twitter thread and appealed for his replacement to be a black candidate: “I co-founded @reddit 15 years ago to help people find community and a sense of belonging. It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country.” The tweet has received over 25,100 retweets and 167,600 likes. 

Others called on black executives to transform their organisations. South African businessman @G_XCON tweeted, “If you are the only Black person on any Board of Companies for a period of 12 months, just know that you are more of a problem than those racist that you serving with on that satanic Board.” The tweet gained traction with 186 retweets and 557 likes.

Following international solidarity over the killing of George Floyd, many have begun sharing other injustices plaguing black communities around the world. Twitter user @kidistbogale retweeted a post by @tayjordz that depicts gruesome images of black people as slaves in modern day Libya: “black lives matter applies ALL AROUND THE WORLD btw”. The tweet generated over 70,300 retweets and 102,700 likes. And 

The @britishmuseum showed their support for the BLM movement – their 4-part thread included a link to a statement: “‘The British Museum stands in solidarity with the Black Community throughout the world. Black Lives Matter – Director Hartwig Fischer.” Read Hartwig’s thoughts and response here:”. The tweet received over 2,800 retweets and 640 likes.

Incidents of police brutality continue to circulate on social media, fuelling protests and calls for reform in the US policing system. On Sunday film director and writer @ava retweeted a post by @_SJPeace showing a video of a white male police officer lying on top of a black woman, choking her: “Everyday. Everywhere. For. Black. People. This. Is. A. Very. Real. Possibility. White. People. Get. To. Ask. And. Argue. And. Assert. We. Must. Submit. And. Comply. Or. Else.” The tweet got 43,400 retweets and 83,700 likes. 

Actor and musician @jaden echoed these sentiments, tweetingIn The African American Community  Police brutality Has Reached A Incomprehensible Level And Governmental Changes MUST Be Made.#BLM” The tweet has 1,500 retweets and 8,800 likes.

Pointing fingers

Helen Zille expressed her disapproval of schools remaining closed: “This attempt to keep schools closed is highly irresponsible, and will do more damage to children’s lives than Covid. The only people who should stay home are children with dread diseases, or staff with co-morbidities.” Zille’s tweet received 1,000 likes and 326 retweets, with most comments disagreeing with her opinion, especially her belief that herd immunity will stop the spread of Covid-19.

The tweet was a response to an article about previous DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s fight against the Concourt ruling to reopen schools. Maimane has advocated for schools to stay closed until proper safety measures have been implemented. Maimane responded to Zille’s tweet in a light-hearted manner, saying she chose to “throw shade” at him on his birthday.

On 3 June @PhumlaniMMajozi tweeted about organisations he claimed were destroying South Africa. Although the tweet was posted earlier in the week, it gained traction during the weekend, with over 1,700 likes, 518 retweets and 122 comments. Phumlani Majozi, a South African political researcher and commentator, named four organisations he believed were responsible for the destruction of South Africa over the past 15 years: the ANC, the SACP, Cosatu and other unions and the EFF. Some Twitter users agreed with him, while others asked him why he doesn’t start his own party and why he excluded organisations such as the DA, SANDF and BLF. Since posting the initial tweet, Phumlani has not commented or engaged with the tweet or the comments received. 

Xenophobia bursts out

The hashtag #PutSouthAfricansFirst appeared in a tweet posted by @landback at 15:09 on Sunday 07 June. Accompanying the tweet was an image of a petition board reading: “We want our country back” together with an image of President Cyril Ramaphosa. The tweet states: “South Africans are busy mobilising to protest against your government’s open borders and high immigration policies.” The post has been retweeted 64 times. 

At the weekend a petition was created on by Nandiswa Gschwari called, “Save South Africa from Foreigners and their Crimes.” The petition asked for 500 signatures and had received 459 signatures by Monday. The petition claims: “Farmers are being murdered by Zimbabweans, Mozambique’s and Malawians. The youth is dying of drugs, human trafficking by Nigerians. Our country has become a paradise for all sorts of criminal activities because of its lawlessness. Please sign and help us save South Africa and re build this beautiful country.”

British political commentator Katie Hopkins, known for her rightwing stance, aired her views in a video that was tweeted on 5 June and viewed more than 100,000 times. The tweet that accompanies the video says: “South Africa is a glimpse into our future. Under a new development, White South Africans will be given refuge & farming opportunity in Eastern Europe. Could Eastern Europe be the place white Christians call home?” Some white South Africans asked why they would need to go to eastern Europe, when South Africa was their country too?

Resorting to humour

South Africans sought some comic relief on Twitter this weekend, with many humorous tweets becoming popular. 

Posing as “specialist correspondent Bob O’Connor”, Tyson Ngobeni explained to imaginary foreign viewers, the concept, function and significance of the “room divider”, a piece of furniture found in many South African households. The tweet received almost 9,000 likes and had been retweeted over 4,000 times.

Uyajola, the reality TV show hosted by Jub Jub that exposes South Africans who cheat on their partners, received over 47,000 mentions, mostly on Sunday after the show aired. Man’s NOT Barry Roux (@AdvoBarryRoux) tweeted, “Jub Jub made the pots do the things that cannot make the pots to be done” – the tweet received over 2,000 likes. There was largely positive sentiment towards the show, while some expressed dismay at the content. A tweet by @xplosivsa, which received only seven likes, noted: “We live in a sad society where the highlight of the week is a show about people cheating on each other.”

South Africans celebrated our unique use of the English language. @MuhammedAsmal4 tweeted: “South Africa is the only place where “don’t lie” means “tell me more.” The tweet received 1,800 retweets and almost 7,000 likes. Others responded with similar “South Africanisms”. 

Another humorous tweet that received much attention was posted by @dannyeurl: “the only ex i miss is ex-tra money.” It received almost 300,000 likes internationally, and over 1,000 mentions locally.  DM

The Centre for Analytics and Behavioural Change (CABC) is a non-profit organisation incubated at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.The CABC stimulates positive social change through engagement, dialogue and advocacy.


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Water, Climate, Conflict & Migration: Coping with 1 Billion People on the Move by 2050

Aid, Civil Society, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Featured, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, Labour, Migration & Refugees, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations


Nidhi Nagabhatla is Principal Researcher, Water Security at the UN University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, funded by the Government of Canada and hosted by McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada

Padma River Basin, Bangladesh Credit: Nidhi Nagabhatla

HAMILTON, Canada, Jun 8 2020 (IPS) – Do migrants willingly choose to flee their homes, or is migration the only option available?

There is no clear, one-size-fits-all explanation for a decision to migrate — a choice that will be made today by many people worldwide, and by an ever-rising number in years to come because of a lack of access to water, climate disasters, a health crisis and other problems.

Data are scarce on the multiple causes, or “push factors,” limiting our understanding of migration. What we can say, though, is that context is everything.

UN University researchers and others far beyond have been looking for direct and indirect links between migration and the water crisis, which has different faces — unsafe water in many places, chronic flooding or drought in others.

The challenge is separating those push factors from the social, economic, and political conditions that contribute to the multi-dimensional realities of vulnerable migrant populations, all of them simply striving for dignity, safety, stability, and sustainably in their lives.

A new report, ‘Water and Migration: A Global Overview,’ ( from UNU’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health, offers insights into water and migration interlinkages, and suggests how to tackle existing gaps and needs.

Its information can be understood easily by stakeholders and proposes ideas for better informed migration-related policymaking, including a three-dimensional framework applicable by scholars and planners at multiple scales and in various settings.

The Report also describes some discomforting patterns and trends, among them:

    • By 2050, a combination of water and climate-driven problems and conflicts will force 1 billion people to migrate, not by choice but as their only option;
    • Links to the climate change and water crises are becoming more evident in a dominant trend: rural-urban migration;
    • That said, there is a severe lack of quantitative information and understanding re. direct and indirect water and climate-related drivers of migration, limiting effective management options at local, national, regional, and global scales
    • Global agreements, institutions, and policies on migration are concerned mostly with response mechanisms. Needed is a balanced approach that addresses water, climate, and other environmental drivers of migration
    • Unregulated migration can lead to rapid, unplanned, and unsustainable settlements and urbanization, causing pressure on water demand and increasing the health risks and burdens for migrants as well as hosting states and communities
    • Migration should be formally recognized as an adaptation strategy for water and climate crises. While it is viewed as a ‘problem,’ in fact it forms part of a ‘solution’
    • Migration reflects the systemic inequalities and social justice issues pertaining to water rights and climate change adaptation. Lack of access to water, bad water quality, and a lack of support for those impacted by extreme water-related situations constitute barriers to a sustainable future for humankind.

Case studies in the report provide concrete examples of the migration consequences in water and climate troubled situations:

    • The shrinking of Lake Chad in Africa and the Aral Sea in Central Asia
    • The saga of Honduran refugees
    • The rapid urbanization of the Nile delta, and
    • The plight of island nations facing both rising seas and more frequent, more intense extreme weather events.

In addition, the added health burdens imposed on people and communities by water pollution and contamination create vicious cycles of poverty, inequality and forced mobility.

While the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda does not include an explicit migration target, its mitigation should be considered in the context of SDGs that aim to strengthen capacities related to water, gender, climate, and institutions. These issues resonate even as the world deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent news stories have chronicled the plight of desperate migrant workers trapped in the COVID-19 crisis in India, and of displaced people in refugee camps where social distancing is unachievable, as is access to soap and water, the most basic preventive measure against the disease.

Add to that the stigma, discrimination, and xenophobia endured by migrants that continue to rise during the pandemic.

Even at this moment, with the world fixated on the pandemic crisis, we cannot afford to put migration’s long-term causes on the back burner.

While the cost of responses may cause concerns, the cost of no decisions will certainly surpass that. There may be no clear, simple solution but having up-to-date evidence and data will surely help.

On World Environment Day ( last week (June 5), we were all encouraged to consider human interdependencies with nature.

Let us also acknowledge that water and climate-related disasters, ecological degradation and other environmental burdens causes economic, health and wellbeing disparities for migrants and populations living in vulnerable settings.