How election of Ramaphosa saved ANC Elective Conference from Twitter wrath

Well, almost.

Let me start with a declaration that will be supported by stats later in this blog post.

One thing many South Africans can agree on is that public perception related to the African National Congress (ANC), which was already at an all-time low going into the 54th ANC Elective Conference given the ruling party’s bad run in recent times, would have worsened if Cyril Ramaphosa did not win the fierce presidential race against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Speeches by many of the officials in the last 5 days confirm that the ANC wanted to do everything possible to leverage the elective conference for improving the organisation’s battered public image.

Thus, it is my impression that public sentiment is one of the metrics that were closely watched by the delegated number crunchers.

About Twitter 

Wonder why Twitter is one of the key feedback sources of public sentiment in South Africa? 

It is because the country’s politicians believe in the power of this communication platform!

Check these 3 embedded tweets out:

This is the current ANC Chief Whip who may be outgoing at the time of publishing this post.

This is the current ANC Spokesperson who may also be outgoing at the time of publishing this post.

This the current Minister of Human Settlements who lost the election for Deputy President of the ANC to David Mabuza.

Clearly, some of the high-ranking officials used Twitter actively and effectively to express personal opinions and disseminate relevant information about the ANC Elective Conference.


Will public sentiment influence election of the new President in #ANC54?

I shall demonstrate in the rest of this post how public mood was lifted by the presidential election results, using analysed Twitter sentiment based on 183 000 online mentions that eNitiate collected on Mention – an online listening tool – between 11 and 20 December 2017.

ANC Elective Conference online mentions

Here is a graph of the collected online mentions for the past 10 days, more than 90% of which came from Twitter:

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Overall, “Cyril Ramaphosa” online mentions contributed a fair share to the aggregate for the Conference. 

As can be expected, Ramaphosa’s contribution to online mentions increased since the announcement of the presidential election results that was made on the 18th of December.

Twitter sentiment

When it comes to politics, my has been my experience that related Twitter sentiment will generally be in the negative territory. 

The negative sentiment is at its worse in the case South African politics at the moment.

Back to the ANC Elective Conference Twitter sentiment.

Comparison of Aggregated online mentions that expressed negative and positive sentiment on the one hand, and comparison of negative sentiment for Aggregated versus #CR17 – the election campaign ID used by  Cyril Ramaphosa – on the other hand, reveal interesting findings.

eNitiate | Public Sentiment | ANC Elective Conference | #ANC54 | Aggregated | 17 December 2017
GRAPH A. #ANC54 Aggregated Sentiment Trend
GRAPH B. Negative Sentiment Trend: Aggregated vs CR17


  • GRAPH A:
    • Aggregated online mentions that expressed negative sentiment were very high before the announcement of presidential election results.
    • Positive sentiment exceeded negative sentiment only on the day of the presidential election results announcement, during the period under review.
    • While negative sentiment increased again after the 18th of December, it never went back to pre-Conference levels.
  • GRAPH B:
    • Comparison of negative sentiment for Aggregated versus #CR17 online mentions clearly shows a direct correlation.
      This can be interpreted to indicate that the latter online mentions influenced the aggregate sentiment for the period under review.

In closing

My assessment, based on the findings of the analysed 183 000 ANC Elective Conference online mentions, is that the ruling party is relieved on some level that Cyril Ramaphosa emerged as the new President due to the resulting improved public sentiment.

Even the South African Rand reacted positively to this news – possibly another metric that was closely watched.

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