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Social media campaign against President Zuma #BlackMonday

A social media campaign named “Black Monday” called on all South Africans to wear black in solidarity and protest against the cabinet reshuffle by President Zuma. Our social media law expert, Verlie Oosthuizen weighs in.

Black Monday
Black Monday Website

LISTEN: Social Media Law Expert weighs in on #BlackMonday

A social media campaign named “Black Monday” called on all South Africans to wear black in solidarity and protest against the cabinet reshuffle by President Zuma which has dominated the political landscape over the last few days.  As we have said before, social media can often be the site and catalyst for massive social change with Twitter being credited for the Arab Spring for example. 

The social media campaign against Zuma has certainly drawn the ire of the South African government with the official Twitter account of the SA Government saying the following in a number of tweets yesterday: “The call made in these messages can have unexpected consequences especially for our fragile economy, business, and communities.

Whilst the public has a democratic right to embark on protest action, the government does not support acts of civil disobedience. These illegal protests do not possess the characteristics of strengthening democracy...” Unfortunately, the campaign has also drawn opposition along racial lines with divisions being seen across the population regarding support for the initiative.

 Whilst calls for civil disobedience may be tremendously fashionable at the moment users need to remember that it is not necessarily lawful and if protests take place outside the parameters of the law they will be punishable by law.  The government is likely to take threats to its power seriously and calls for civil disobedience are not protected just because everybody is engaging in them.  The power of social media cannot be denied but there may be serious consequences.

Verlie Oosthuizen

Shepstone & Wylie Social Media Law Department

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