Ramaphosa’s 2021 SONA draws largely unfavorable response – survey

When looking at the amount of times the 2021 SONA was mentioned on social media in South Africa, it was around 4 000 times, more than 50% down compared to 2020's address with just over 10 000. A new survey shed some interesting insights into the mixed responses President Ramaphosa's eargely awaited address drew.

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Yet another survey by media intelligence firm Meltwater provided some interesting insights into the 2021 State of the Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Here are some key insights that you might find interesting:

  • On 11 February 2020, “SONA” or “State of the Nation Address” was mentioned around 4 000 times on social media, compared to last year’s social media mentions which where around 10 000.

Compared to the 2020 address, which took place on 13 Feb 2020, the amount of mentions was just over 10 000. The reason for the high number of mentions last year included the presence of Miss Universe, South African-born Zozibini Tunzi, reactions to the usual glitz and glam of the red carpet fashion, as well as reactions to topics that the President touched on (such as youth unemployment).

  • Even though this year’s “SONA” garnered few social media mentions, the social reach of these mentioned was 235 Million people on 11 February 2021. 94% of these social media mentions came from Twitter, 5% were from blogs and 1% were from online forums.
  • When it comes to how South Africans were feeling about this year’s SONA address, the data indicates that 79% of social media mentions on “SONA” or “State of the Nation Address” were negative on 11 February 2021. Social media comments that were of a negative nature include users who felt underwhelmed by what the President had to say this year. One Twitter user felt misled by the “narrow definition of unemployment”, while others felt that watching SONA is a waste of time.
  • However, the 21% of online users who felt positive about this year’s SONA praised the President for his efforts in acquiring COVID-19 vaccines, as well as how he touched on corruption in the country being “one of the greatest impediments to the country’s growth and development”, as The Citizen News tweeted.
  • Looking at some of the trending themes to have emerged from last night’s SONA, it echoes how President Ramaphosa chose to focus his speech mainly on the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and unemployment rate. These are noted to be some of the key themes that online users picked up on, alongside the following trending themes:

– “ANC incompetence and corruption” which refers to this tweet from @SimonPGrindrod that gained much engagement

– “Unnecessarily expensive displays” which refers to this tweet from @MelBala regarding the cost of this year’s SONA as opposed to the previous year.

  • While South African news outlets, such as News 24, eNCA and SABC News, covered most of last night’s address on social media, some other influential and top posters that engaged with “SONA” or “State of the Nation Address” conversations online include Mmusi Maimane, Helen Zille, Jessica Nkosi and Anele Mdoda.
  • Without the usual pomp and circumstance of this year’s State of the Nation Address, social media users in South Africa did not seem all too invested in tuning into what the President had to say. But for those who did listen in, very little positivity was felt towards what President Ramaphosa addressed in his speech. Perhaps there will be more to look forward in next year’s SONA; only time will tell.

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