4 March 2014

South Africa: Hannibal Elector - What the Zille Twit-Pocalypse Says About Us and 2014 Election


In this, the first properly "viral" South African election, the way that politicians, citizens and journalists are now battling it out online has made old-school, paper 'n ink headlines more than once. What does the latest flap over opposition leader and Democratic Alliance president, Helen Zille, say about new realms of civic engagement in South Africa 3.0? RICHARD POPLAK goes online to find out.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who can watch the watchmen?

--Juvenal, Satires

Jesus, Twitter, what have you done?

Given that this is ostensibly an essay about Helen Zille and her recent viral dung-flinging at veteran journalist Carien du Plessis, I should mention that I, too, have been subject to the DA leader's Twitter wrath. (That sentence, by the way, would enrage Zille, who loathes postmodern journalism: the need for every hack to insert himself into the story; the subordination of hard facts for personal perspectives; the disappearance of Truth in the face of Me). Having a Twitter scrap with Helen Zille doesn't make one a remarkable or even effective journalist--in fact, it's sort of a vocational rite of passage. In lieu of diplomas, I hear that Rhodes' University's J-school programme will now be bestowing Zille's crap-talk mini-missives...

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