If South Africa’s president were to be chosen by how many followers an individual politician has on Twitter, Julius Malema would be our current Number One.

A local digital content solutions service provider called eNitiate sifted through the top 500 South African Twitter handles to find the top 11 politicians according to who has the most followers; these are the results.

EFF party leader Julius Malema leads the pack with over 1.08 million followers, followed by Helen Zille who has 938 000 followers.

President Jacob Zuma, who hasn’t tweeted since 2013, has 403 000 followers.

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All leaders of the top three political parties in South Africa feature on the list.

“On the strength of absolute follower numbers alone, the EFF rules the Twitter roost,” eNitiate said on its blog.

“Only one portfolio minister, Fikile Mbalula (Sport and Recreation) is in the top 11. In addition, only one politician –Helen Zille (Western Cape Premier), is in the local government structures,” it added.

Two of the politicians on the list, Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mamphela Ramphele, are currently not active in any political structure.

Although placed at the bottom of the table, former ANC national spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, has seen the largest follower growth in the last six months. This may be due to his recent appointment as the ANC’s parliamentary chief whip in parliament.

He is followed closely by EFF spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

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If you follow Minister Mbalula, you’ll know he’s quite the savvy social media user, so it’s not surprising that he shows the most tweeting frequency among the bunch (he apparently tweets on average once every hour).

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When narrowed down to exactly what they spend their time doing on Twitter, Malema does the most retweeting, Zille replies the most, while Mbalula posts the most pictures (three pictures for every ten tweets).

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“On average, top 3 Twitter activities by the top 11 South African politicians are retweets (37%), replies (25%) and plain tweets (23%),” eNtitiate said.

On a score of between zero and one with regards to influence, Zille narrowly beats out Malema with score of 0.988 and 0.983 respectively, followed by Mbalula and DA leader Mmusi Maimane at 0.96 each.

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“We are not surprised [by the above], as Madam Premier is the most responsive (based on her Replies as indicated above) of [the] top 11,” eNitiate said.

Additional findings by the service provider include the following:

The top 11 South African politicians have a high number of Twitter followers mainly due to any combination of the following three factors:

  • – The political office they hold, e.g. President of the country or leader a prominent political party; and/or
  • – The level and type of Twitter activity – Premier Zille and Minister Mbalula; and/or
  • – Political/personal/social profile – Mamphela Ramphele and Lindiwe Mazibuko

“In our observation, South Africa’s political parties have come to appreciate the value of social media in the last five years and are actively engaging, both through party and individual accounts,” eNtitiate concluded.

[Source – eNitiate, image – CC Government ZA]