Mis/disinformation report on the 2021 Local Government Elections (LGE2021)

I contributed a chapter to the South African Disinformation Project‘s report on last year’s Local Government Elections which was released in January 2022. These elections were a watershed for South Africa in a few ways:

  • The hegemony of the ruling ANC party has been severely challenged and many believe it’s been irrevocably broken
  • Our political landscape has been expanded thanks to the likes of Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA and Mmusi Maimane’s OneSA Movement
  • ActionSA in particular was able to transmute the nationalist, xenophobic movement, #PutSouthAfricansFirst (PSAF), into votes. Anti-foreigner sentiment is going to be the tail that wags the South African political dog for the next few years

I wrote up Chapter 4 of the report, covering this expanded landscape as well as the worrying populist leveraging of anti-foreigner sentiment for votes by ActionSA in what appears to have been along game, starting in April 2020.

Read it here (PDF).

Cover of the report

Some extracts:

Herman Mashaba and RET-aligned, ATM, party’s head, Vuyo Zungula, both jumped on to the #PutSouthAfricansFirst the very first day that the hashtag camapign was lanuched (28 April 2020). Coincidence?

Mashaba and Zungula both used the #PutSouthAfricansFirst hashtag the day that the PSAF campaign was launched

A classic example of Mashaba and ActionSA’s duel messaging stragegy. On Facebook, they emphasise rule of law and appeal to DA voters, while on Twitter, Mashaba shares tweets like this one calling for the deportation of ALL Somalis (legal and illegal) from South Africa just two weeks before the elections:

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