Facebook groups divided over Zuma

2008-09-05 00:00

The ANC has no problem with its president Jacob Zuma popping up on social networking website Facebook in groups for and against him becoming president of the country.

“We encourage a healthy dialogue on a variety of issues, including … Jacob Zuma,” said spokesman Ishmael Mnisi on Thursday.

One of the largest groups, with 52 021 members, is “Help us stop Jacob Zuma from becoming South Africa’s next president”.

Other Zuma-related groups on Facebook include: “Dude, I’d rather vote for [U.S. president George] Bush, than Zuma!” with 69 members; “Jacob Zuma: Our next president” with seven members; “Jacob Zuma — Innocent until proven guilty”, 14 members; and “I don’t necessarily like Jacob Zuma, but put [his trademark song] Mshini wami on the charts!”, 27 members. There is also the “Jacob Zuma appreciation society” with 81 members.

The person who initiated the “Help us stop Jacob Zuma” group wrote: “I have started this group in the hope that all South Africans join together to save our country from the possibility of Jacob Zuma becoming the next president. We encourage mature discussions on whether or not you support this cause. Hate speech not only undermines the credibility of this group, but portrays Zuma as a media victim! This does nothing but backfire against the very cause that this group is striving for.”

Political analyst Dr Siphamandla Zondi said he believed the group would have minimal effect on the ANC’s performance in the 2009 elections.

“Anything done electronically has its own limitations, but the Internet covers only a small portion of the voting population …

“These campaigns or groups would have a greater impact if they targeted poorer people through different channels. Targeting poorer people would then swing change.” — Sapa.

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