South Africa’s 2016 Municipal Elections: How the ANC and DA Leveraged Twitter to Capture the Urban Vote

This paper focuses on how South Africa’s governing party, the African
National Congress (ANC), and main opposition, the Democratic Alliance
(DA), leveraged microblogging site Twitter. This was part of their urban
election campaign arsenal in the 2016 local government elections (LGE) to
promote party-political digital issue ownership within an urban context.
Using each party’s corpus of 2016 election-related tweets and election
manifestos, this three-phased grounded theory study found that each party
used Twitter as a digital political communication platform to communicate
their election campaigns. The DA notably leveraged the social networking
site more for intense focused messaging of its negative campaign against the
ANC while simultaneously promoting positive electoral messages around
its own core issues and metro (urban) mayoral candidates. Furthermore,
battleground metros were identified, narrow-cast and subsequently audience segmented by the party in Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, Tshwane (in Gauteng)
and Nelson Mandela Bay (in the Eastern Cape). This led to an emphasised
campaign to either activate the party’s own urban support base and/or to
suppress the ANC’s turnout in these highly-contested areas. The results of
this study further indicate that the ANC and DA both used Twitter to claim
explicit and implicit digital party-political issue ownership in the 2016 LGE.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
journal of african elections vol20 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa