Durban – The EFF has become the first South African political party to reach 1 million followers on Twitter, leaving the governing ANC and the official opposition, the DA, in their wake on the popular social media platform. 

The EFF reached one million followers this week, while the ANC trails behind with 768 500 followers and the DA – with 595 600 followers. The EFF’s closest rival, the ANC, trails by some 230 000 followers. 

The EFF was founded in July 2013 and the party elected its current leader Julius Malema to lead the party. The party’s Twitter page shows that it joined the platform in November 2012 and the party describes itself on its header on Twitter as the “SA Government in Waiting”. 

Taking to his Facebook account to celebrate reaching the milestone, former party spokesperson and EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, wrote: “The @EFFSouthAfrica has reached a million supporters. It is the first political party in South Africa to have this population on Twitter. Hasta la Victoria Siempre! #EconomicFreedom in Our Lifetime.” 

The ANC, which joined Twitter in January 2009, has 768 500 followers on Twitter while the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition in the National Assembly, which joined Twitter in March 2009 has 595 600 followers. 

Political analyst Mighti Jamie said that the EFF’s milestone demonstrated where the future of South Africa’s political landscape lies and that despite this huge following depicting their size it also allows them to control their own narrative in a way that other political parties were not able to.

“One million followers is one million followers and they have a bigger footprint on the digital space than newspapers and some TV stations, so this allows them to be able to circumvent mainstream media for messaging their own stuff.

“That is a useful tool for them moving into the future of South African politics,” said Jamie. 

He said that a party like the ANC has a historical support base of older voters who are not as digital and tech savvy and not on platforms like Twitter, and even though they were smaller on the internet, they remained sizable on the ground.  

“The demographic of the future, which is that 20 to 40 year old demographic seems to have been actively captured by the EFF, more so than any other political party.

“This is a demographic that the DA and other parties are also competing for so the fact that the EFF has been able to capture market share on the internet, independent of its political figure head is critical because very few politicians are at the one million level,” Jamie said.

He said reaching one million Twitter followers showed that the EFF, as a brand, had proven itself and even established a powerful digital corporate identity. 

“Even though the internet is not real life people often ignore that certain demographics are very active on those platforms and quite accurately reflected on those platforms, if we even go a bit lower and you’re looking between the ages of 15 and 40, a large part of the youth demographic is very active on Twitter. 

“The fact that the EFF has been able to become the winner in terms of the digital constituency on Twitter gives a stronger indicator of where they’re going in the future,” said Jamie.

He added that this followership that the EFF has, may even be lower than their actual membership numbers because some people were afraid to follow the EFF because it reflected on their employers’ checks, so it may very well be that they have more support. 

The IFP, the fourth biggest political party in the National Assembly with 14 seats, has just 6234 Twitter followers since it joined the platform in January 2016. 

Other National Assembly political parties Twitter following ranks as follows: 

Freedom Front Plus: 16 700 followers, joined Twitter in November 2009 

African Christian Democratic Party: 12 300 followers, joined Twitter in June 2012

United Democratic Movement: 6542 followers, joined Twitter in March 2013

African Transformation Movement: 5575 followers, joined Twitter in August 2018

GOOD: 4513 followers, joined Twitter in November 2018

National Freedom Party: 25 followers, joined Twitter in August 2019

Congress of the People: 383 followers, joined Twitter in March 2009

African Independent Congress (Western Cape): 9 followers, joined Twitter in May 2019 

PAC of Azania: 7009 followers, joined Twitter in September 2015

Al Jama-ah: 8 followers, joined Twitter in February 2020

Political Bureau

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