african national congress luthuli house johannesburg
Luthuli House, ANC headquarters in Johannesburg.

Several weeks ago, the hashtag #ANCFriday started appearing on Twitter, with people being encouraged to post heart signs in green, black and gold in their tweets, the colours of the African National Congress. Within a few hours a backlash was triggered, under the hashtag #VoetsekANC. And each Friday since then, it has trended higher and higher on local Twitter.

Today – Friday has now become D-Day each week to post the hashtag –  #VoetsekANC moved quickly from above 30,000 tweets to over 57,000 by 6 p.m., and kept going, and has stayed at No. 1 the whole day. What began as a place for the disgruntled and angry has turned into a forum for the public to vent against the ANC.

With people from every stripe posting their thoughts – with backers from both the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters – it has done the unimaginable and brought opposing sides together, albeit unintentionally and probably not for very long.

If the #ANCFriday love signs were an attempt to repair the ANC’s image, which goes from scandal to scandal – constant new revelations about state capture, inept handling of the pandemic response, reinstatement of ANC officials implicated in the VBS and other scandals, promises to deal with corruption while corrupt officials are still in the ANC, a score of ANC bigwigs scoring PPE contracts, and so on – it didn’t last long. Indeed, #ANCFriday has backfired, and today Twitterati were using the hashtag to link to stories about waterless Limpopo residents and allegations of former minister Malusi Gigaba buying fancy suits with cash he had just got from the Guptas.

The #VoetsekANC hashtag, which began at about the same time corruption linked to PPE tenders started surfacing, clearly has been noticed by the party in question. Two weeks ago, Panyaza Lesufi, deputy chairman of the Gauteng ANC, said about the hashtag, “When I joined the ANC many years ago nobody mocked us. We used to laugh about Bantustan leaders like Lucas Mangope, Patrick Mpephu and the Matanzimas. It never occurred to me that one day jokes would be made about our own leaders.”

Jackson Mthembu, Minister in the Presidency, also took to Twitter to say that no amount of thuggery would deter the ANC from fighting corruption. However, the postings on Twitter, by the thousands, don’t seem to believe it.

Here are some of the top tweets: