As a rule of thumb, politicians don’t do well when they grant an open forum to the public.
When they’re not insulated by the form and manners required at say, a press briefing or parliamentary discourse, things can become ugly – especially if social media is involved.
For proof of this, look no further than tweets being fired out at the moment using the #AskBlade hashtag. We’re not sure who told South Africa’s Minister for Higher Education and Training, Blade Mzimande, it might be a good idea to take to Twitter to answer questions from the general public, or whether he came up with this idea himself.
What we do know is that Mr Mzimande’s Twitter timeline has turned into what social media-savvy folks call a ‘dogpile’. If you’re having a rough day we suggest tossing the hashtag #AskBlade into Twitter’s search engine and having a read. Your day could be worse – a whole lot worse.
‘Questions’ fired in the minister’s direction range from irate,
Blade would rather sit in his office&answer questions on twitter,whilst students are waiting for him on the ground? Its cowardice #AskBlade
— .Independent Soul (@_Paledi) February 26, 2016
— Mandlesilo (@DrMandlesilo) February 26, 2016
to downright hostile.
— Kgoshi Ya Lebowa (@Marcellomj) July 9, 2015
Perhaps the most erudite and on-the-money tweet we’ve seen since this whole Twitter Storm started is this one:
#AskBlade: In which universe did you see this Q&A session going well for you?
— Deep Fried Man (@DeepFriedMan) February 26, 2016
Mr Mzimande shouldn’t feel too put upon, though. He’s not the first politician to try and navigate Twitter’s choppy waters. DA head Mmusi Mainane did a Q&A on the micro-blogging platform last year and it went about as well as one would expect – although to be fair to Mainane, he was a rather good sport about it.
However our two local politicians feel about their experience on Twitter, they were nowhere near as hostile as the reaction UK Chancellor George Osborne received when he started his account. (That link, incidentally is definitely NSFW).