15 April 2019

South Africa: When President Ramaphosa Met Twitter

analysis

The streets of Twitter can be a dangerous place for politicians to hang out -- but it's increasingly seen as a vital channel for reaching young people in particular. On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa took the plunge, fielding questions sent his way. Some questions, that is. Indeed, the list of questions not answered by Ramaphosa was in some ways more interesting than those he chose to tackle.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa took election campaigning to the digital sphere on Monday night, his advisers had clearly hoped that a level of chummy informality would prevail -- judging, at least, from the chosen hashtag: #HolaMatamela.

But Ramaphosa was not about to suddenly let his hair down and reveal himself to be fluent in Internet-ese. Every one of the 22 answers Ramaphosa provided to his Twitter audience read as though they could have been clipped from a presidential speech to Parliament.

"Some of the questions have really been able to get my mind racing and thinking about what needs to be done," the president said in a short video clip posted to mark the end of the Q&A.

Perhaps Ramaphosa was referring to the mentally invigorating effects of the questions he chose...

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