Zuma’s aides fume at ANC’s Twitter snub

ANC NEC member Nomvula Monkonyane, president Jacob Zuma and ANC provincial chair Sihle Zikalala at the ANC Siyanqoba Rally in Nquthu. The Presidency’s communications head claims that the ANC did not give Zuma’s appearance at the rally enough social media coverage, insiders say. Image: THULI DLAMINI
The Union Buildings won’t be re-tweeting Luthuli House anytime soon because the Presidency is unimpressed by the ANC’s alleged failure to make President Jacob Zuma trend.

Senior officials in the Presidency accuse the ANC communications team, headed by Gauteng ANC executive committee member Khusela Sangoni, of not giving Zuma’s events coverage on social media.

Presidency communications chief director Bongani Majola is said to have expressed his frustration in an ANC WhatsApp group. The Presidency communications unit accused Sangoni’s team of “acting factionally” after Zuma’s address in Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal, went largely unnoticed last Sunday while Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa enjoyed live Twitter coverage by the ANC’s official handle at an SACP event at the same time.

Insiders say Zuma’s lieutenants approached the president’s staunch ally, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, to deal with Sangoni.

It is believed that Duarte confronted Sangoni about the accusations, but Sangoni pointed out to her that the Presidency had appointed a designated official to tweet from Zuma’s events.

Tension has been brewing between the two communications teams for a while. The Sunday Times understands that a similar confrontation took place when the ANC official Twitter handle did not tweet live from Zuma’s recent birthday party, which was held in Soweto.

Zuma’s backers accused Sangoni of favouring Zuma’s rivals, including Ramaphosa and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.

Sangoni told the Sunday Times she should not be held responsible if the official appointed by the Presidency to keep Zuma in the public eye on social media did not do his job.

“This person is managed by them so I cannot comment on why they did not cover the president’s address in Nquthu, or anywhere else for that matter,” she said.

Sangoni said her social media team had extremely limited resources with which to cover ANC events across the country.

The friction comes at a time when Zuma, nearing the end of his tenure as party leader, appears to be plunging in popularity, even within the ANC.

A Luthuli House source said: “When everyone was tweeting about Ramaphosa’s speech and it was live-tweeted on @MYANC, the Presidency comms [communication] people got annoyed. Bongani Majola was the one who raised it … They always accuse the DIP [ANC department of information and publicity] of not covering Zuma,” the source said.

Majola referred enquiries to Zuma’s spokesman, Bongani Ngqulunga, who failed to respond to enquiries.

Sangoni said a meeting to iron out differences between the two communications teams was scheduled for tomorrow.

SUNDAY TIMES NEWS BY QAANITAH HUNTER

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