Malema Day on Twitter
Cape Town – Twitter users have targeted ANC Youth League president Julius Malema by declaring Friday as "Julius Malema Day".
Several new accounts in the name of the youth leader have been opened on the micro-blogging service in defiance of threats by the ANCYL to close the website over fraudulent accounts.
Twitter users have gone further than just creating Malema accounts – they have also started circulating jokes featuring the firebrand leader.
"So wait today is julius malema friday AND international toilet day?!? Bwahahahaha what a brilliant connection!" wrote Twitter user GarethWoods84.
"One day a teacher finds Julius Malema in the library, photocopying blank paper, so she asks him ‘what are u doing Julius?’ He replies, ha maam, ‘I’m making more paper,’" wrote "divantow".
The goal of the "Julius Malema Day" is to illustrate how "amazing" social networking can be, according to the Bangers and Nash website.
"I think by now we’re all aware of the immensity of Malema and his parties’ ineptitude regarding media, social or traditional, especially his views on Twitter. Perhaps it’s time to show the buffoon just how amazing it can be. So let’s celebrate Twitter with the imbecile this Friday by changing our avatars to a pic of the fat man himself," the website said.
Political analysts have warned that it is important for politicians to take social media seriously.
"All political parties are starting to understand the value of social media and some politicians are more active than others," Idasa online communications manager Samantha Fleming told News24.
Fleming said US president Barack Obama’s presidential campaign had generated enormous traction and some South African politicians were starting to take the site more seriously, particularly as more people joined. It also serves the majority of the population who do not have computers.
"Mobile is really huge – it’s not like you need to have an iPhone. Even people with a basic phone can access social media. They aren’t organising and mobilising on Facebook; it’s just chatting to friends, but it’s a small step to get there," she said.
The ANCYL, though, had initially dismissed social networking.
"We don’t follow up on petty issues; it’s not even a story. We have bigger battles to fight and this internet doesn’t even speak to our people," spokesperson Floyd Shivambu told News24 in March.
Since then the party has threatened to shut down the site over the fraudulent accounts, and users have reacted with anger.
"The ANC YL has in more than one occasion reported these impersonators and hackers, yet no action has been taken against them by the twitter administrators. We will now approach the relevant authorities to report these hackers and call for the closer of twitter if its administrators are not able to administer reports for violation of basic human rights and integrity," (sic) it said in a statement.
Despite repeated attempts, the ANCYL was unavailable for comment on Friday.