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Listening to South African youth opinions on the 2016 municipal government elections An Africa’s Voices report for Livity Africa

Contents 0. Executive Summary 1. Introduction

◆ The ‘change elections’ ◆ Livity’s #2X campaign ◆ Collaboration with Africa’s Voices 2. Method

◆ Participants and sampling ◆ Research design ◆ Data collection modes ◆ Procedural challenges & revisions ◆ Considerations about representativeness

3. Results

◆ Thematic analysis of social media ◆ Media analysis & timeline ◆ Impact study 4. Conclusion

◆ Key insights ◆ Recommendations ◆ Closing remarks Appendix ◆

Report prepared in September 2016 by Africa’s Voices Foundation for Livity Africa. Researchers & contributors: Claudia Abreu Lopes, Jeunese Payne, Rita Zágoni, Rainbow Wilcox & Kim Harrisberg. Report design: Eleni Courea, Rainbow Wilcox & Hannah Williams (timeline). Other members of the Africa’s Voices team who supported this project: Giles Barton-Owen, George Kaburu & Sharath Srinivasan. The material in this work is subject to copyright. Parties interested in reproducing this work in whole or in part are encouraged to contact Africa’s Voices at

Executive Summary South Africa’s 2016 municipal elections marked a turning point in the country’s politics. Support for the African National Congress (ANC) - the ruling party since the end of apartheid - fell dramatically. While the ANC lost control of municipalities, opposition parties Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters gained more votes than ever before. In the run up to the elections, Livity Africa’s multimedia #2X campaign sought to encourage young people’s involvement in politics, and raise their propensity to vote. Africa’s Voices Foundation (AVF) partnered with Livity on its #2X campaign to gather and analyse digital data from Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Our aim was to discover who the campaign was reaching and engaging, and what issues matter to young South Africans. We also investigated whether the #2X online campaign had an impact on young people’s propensity to vote and their engagement in politics. AVF combines social science and data science to understand and help shape citizen engagement and social change. With Livity, we piloted a mixed-method approach to analyse social media comments, and conducted an impact study using pre- and post-election questionnaires. Important insights emerged. Exposure to the #2X online campaign was associated with higher propensity to vote. This association was stronger for exposure to the campaign on Facebook than on Twitter. The Facebook campaign was particularly important for younger groups - mainly new voters and those with less interest in politics. We also found evidence of the campaign’s impact on young people’s offline behaviours such as an interest in attending political meetings and in contacting their representatives. Our thematic analysis of the social media discussions identified key issues for youth. Young people engaging with the #2X campaign spoke primarily about their experiences of inequality and their discontent with the current government. Race consistently inflected discussions. An underlying discourse of unfairness and lack of social cohesion emerged. A project such as this between Livity and AVF combines our respective skills to achieve a shared goal of engaging young Africans, listening intelligently to their voices, and thus empowering them. This was a close collaboration that required flexibility in order to achieve objectives - such as adapting the research design and methods to respond to the #2X campaign and its engagement strategies. We believe our insights can enhance Livity’s targeting strategies for campaign content to heighten engagement and impact. In addition, this project has refined AVF’s research and data analysis techniques. We hope that this collaboration is the start of a longer term partnership based on an understanding of how Livity is able to reach and engage large numbers of young people in the democratic process. In particular, we would like to understand how we can incorporate real-time insights into campaigns in a responsive way. We also hope to work alongside future campaigns from the earliest stage, to ensure we capture the data needed to obtain more robust evidence of such impact. 2

Photo by Jeunese Payne for 3

Africa’s Voices

Introduction A. THE ‘CHANGE ELECTIONS’ THE CONTEXT OF SOUTH AFRICA’S 2016 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS On the 3rd August 2016, South Africa held its fifth set of municipal elections since the end of apartheid. Local, district, and metropolitan municipalities elected representatives in all nine provinces of the country. The African National Congress (ANC) –- which has enjoyed virtually unrivalled support since 1994 -– saw a distinct drop in its vote share, marking the elections as a watershed moment in South African politics. Until 2016, the ANC had held a majority in eight of South Africa’s nine metropolitan municipalities, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) controlling the Western Cape. However, a combination of factors –- including a weak economy, political assassinations in KwaZulu-Natal, internal party divides, corruption charges against President Zuma, and general discontent with national service delivery, employment, and education – has led to a waning of support for the ruling party. The ANC’s party membership dropped from 1.2 million in 2012 to 769,000 in 2015. Both 2015 and 2016 saw large student demonstrations throughout the country. The #FeesMustFall movement called for more affordable tertiary education through physical protest and social media activism. The #ZumaMustFall protests -– triggered primarily by Zuma’s use of taxpayer money to fund his private residence -– attracted thousands of people nationwide. At the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) ceremony where President Zuma announced the election results, female activists demonstrated against his walking away from rape allegations in 2006. The culmination of this growing disillusionment was seen in the 2016 elections, when the ANC lost its foothold in Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, and the City of Johannesburg was lost to a coalition alliance between the DA and Julius Malema’s nascent party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). These results led DA President Mmusi Maimane to refer to 2016 as the year of ‘the change elections’ during an interview with a popular South African radio station. The ‘change elections’ saw South Africans vocalising and voting on the social 4

problems they saw as most pressing. Social media and news discussions focused on the issues of rape, racism, inequality, wealth distribution, education, and violent political protest in the buildup to the 2016 vote. The upcoming 2019 presidential elections -– from which President Zuma is barred from running by the presidential two-term limit –- are expected to raise more questions about the future of South Africa’s political landscape.

B. LIVITY’S #2X CAMPAIGN In the run up to South Africa’s 2016 municipal elections, Livity Africa launched the #2X campaign, building off its longer-running ‘Voting is Power’ campaign, which seeks to encourage youth involvement in politics. Livity’s multi-media campaign was titled “Take your power to the polls: Listening to South African Youth Opinions on the 2016 Municipal Government Elections”. Using the contemporary power of the hashtag (#), it aimed to galvanise ‘alternative’ democratic engagement in digital spaces, as a catalyst for greater formal democratic participation by youth (‘2’=to, ‘X’=vote). The #2X campaign sought to heighten young people's propensity to vote in the elections by engaging them in discussions, and then spotlighting youth-articulated issues with which to engage political actors and inject into the mainstream news. With more engaged youth, whose voices are being amplified in forums relevant to them and then in wider public debates, Livity anticipated the #2X campaign would lead to greater youth involvement in politics and thus higher participation. The #2X campaign was promoted using TV, radio, the cinema, outdoor (e.g. wall murals), and digital channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Premium Display, and Deezer. Online, Livity used its established ‘VIP’ (Voting is Power) brand to trigger and curate conversations with its audience. Livity’s online campaign was guided via their tweets under the main hashtag ‘#2X’ that was tweaked according to where they were campaigning. For example ‘#2Xratanda’ and ‘#2Xjozi’ were used when they were campaigning in or engaging with community members in those areas respectively. These hashtags also triggered new hashtags which Livity then engaged with to continue online engagement. Examples of these hashtags include #lge2016 (local government elections), #vuwani, #feesmustfall and #womensday. Livity selected content (e.g. tweets using #2X) to display on their tailored #2X portal - an online tool that aggregated and visualised messages to amplify opinions. Livity also organised and hosted 11 ‘activations’ across the country where they listened to what the youth had to say. Each activation started with a focus group consisting of 6-12 people, followed by an open panel discussion for all attendees, and then one-on-one interviews with selected participants.


Engaging youth in conversations about politics through the #2X campaign and VIP digital platforms allowed Livity to listen to a large number of young people. Their familiarity with social media and its social function (for example, peer-to-peer interaction) facilitated young people’s engagement with topics of discussion relevant to the #2X campaign.

C. COLLABORATION WITH AFRICA’S VOICES Africa’s Voices partnered with Livity for the #2X campaign to assist with researching audience interaction related to the online and digital aspects of the campaign, as well as its impact on young peoples’ propensity to vote. Our objectives were to: 1. Provide regular insights during the campaign into audience engagement, delivered in an accessible and visual formats. These allow for iterative refinement of Livity’s #2X online campaign to boost participation and engagement, as well as informing future campaigns (e.g. what digital channels should be used and for whom). 2. Provide credible evidence of the impact of the #2X campaign on voting behaviour (referred to hereafter as our ‘impact study’). 3. Enable a linked-up monitoring and evaluation approach across several digital channels by gathering various forms of digital audience data and providing Livity with sophisticated analysis of that data. Through these research activities, we sought to help Livity to answer the following questions:

Q1a. What levels of reach & engagement did the #2x digital campaign achieve? Q1b. Who didn't the online #2X campaign reach? Q2a. What issues did young people raise? Which ones seem to matter the most? Q2b. How did #2X identify and amplify these issues towards wider public 

discussion and debate? Q3a. Did the #2X campaign increase youth propensity to vote? Q3b. Which channels had the most effect? Q4. How did the campaign influence propensity to vote among demographic groups? For our impact study, we gathered and analysed interaction data, sent by the audience both privately through Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger (using Ongair), and email, and posted publicly on Facebook and Twitter (using Livity’s established VIP accounts). 6

Livity #2X Debate in Bloem 7

Photo credit:Thabiso Molatlhwa

Method A. PARTICIPANTS AND SAMPLING Africa’s Voices analysis’ and evaluation of Livity’s online #2X campaign used a mixed method approach of online surveys and analysis of social media.

Online surveys for impact study (904 participants) To evaluate #2X campaign’s impact on propensity to vote we conducted several online surveys (two pre-election and one post-election surveys) sent via email and instant messaging (WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger).1 Participants were selfselected by seeing a general invitation posted on Livity's online VIP (Voting is Power) platforms. The invitation took the form of a graphic posted on Facebook and Twitter (see below).

Invitations were also sent by email to reach those who might not have been exposed to the #2X campaign on social media, for example, people who attended the #2X community meetings and activations. Those who opted to participate in the study were sent one to three questionnaires and rewarded with free airtime (R30-50) per questionnaire completed. As the study targeted everyone who was exposed to the #2X campaign (online and/or offline) the sampling strategy was non-probabilistic. We expect a high coverage error because the difference between the target population (young South Africans with internet access) and the accessible population (those who saw/


The response rate varied between 6.5% for the pre-election and 12.7% for the post-election surveys. 8

received the invitation) is substantial. This is because some people did not provide an email address (or didn’t have one) during the activations, and some people didn’t see the invitation on social media although it was posted three times. As such, we opted to reach different groups of people (known as sampling to heterogeneity) using multiple channels (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, email). People who participated in the study may have different characteristics from those who chose not to participate - meaning that the study is prone to self-selection bias. Using different channels to distribute the questionnaires allowed us to reach people from different socio-demographics (e.g. younger people on WhatsApp, more females through Facebook) to be able to compare the effects of the campaign across groups. As Figure 1 shows, most people who participated in the impact study via Facebook Messenger were women (77.3%), while female participation was lower at 48.1% on WhatsApp and 45.5% via email. The total gender participation rate for the impact study was 59.6% female, 38.1% male, 1.0% non-binary and 1.3% transgender.



Self-selection bias is also reflected in the age distribution: the most dominant age group was 23-26 years-old (49.1%), followed by 19-22 year-olds (24.5%). The email questionnaire reached slightly older people compared to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger (Figure 2). However, most participants were 19-26 years old (74.6% of email participants and 71.2% of Facebook Messenger and 74.0% of WhatsApp participants). While self-selection bias may threaten the representativeness of the sample when generalising results to all who were exposed to the campaign, it does not pose a threat to the validity of analysis and conclusions based on associations between variables (e.g. regression analysis). Throughout this report, we flag any conclusions that may be compromised by self-selection bias.


Monitoring and analysis of #2X online campaign (1024 messages by 763 unique accounts). To understand reach of the campaign and topics of discussion, we analysed the content of messages posted on the VIP Portal and levels of engagement on the VIP Live ZA Facebook and Twitter pages (i.e. likes, reach, impressions). Messages were selected by Livity from the VIP Live ZA portal and from Twitter (tweets with #2X hashtags), based on their relevance to the campaign. The


selection of messages included the predominant opinions expressed on Twitter and Facebook checked against the complete set of messages from both platforms. Based on the selection by Livity, we have analysed 13.4% of all Twitter messages (478) which used the campaign hashtags #2XChat, #2XDebate, #2XJozi, #2xVote, #2XRatanda, and #2XPE. Similarly, we analysed the Facebook comments posted to the VIP Live ZA Facebook page selected by Livity, which constituted 29.1% (141) of all comments on the page within the campaign period.

Focus Group Discussions


At Livity’s activations, researcher Thenjiwe Mswane


conducted seven Focus Group Discussions (FGD).


FGD participants were aged between 17-35 years old and 31% identified as women. We do not discuss the results of this independent, parallel research in our report. However, an executive summary can be found in Appendix 1. Questions asked at the FGDs are in Appendix 2.

B. RESEARCH DESIGN This project seeks to answer several questions related to the content and reach of online discussions and the impact of the #2X campaign on propensity to vote. The analysis of social media was done in two ways: (1) the analysis of content of interactions with the campaign using thematic analysis of a sample of social media messages that were selected by Livity for their VIP portal; (2) analysis of reach and engagement (reach, likes, comments, tweets and impressions) on Facebook VIP Live ZA page and #2X on Twitter. The impact study was initially planned to be a non-experimental study to understand how the propensity to vote was affected by the #2X campaign in three moments in time: two before the elections and one after the election. However, due to technical issues with Ongair (the platform which managed data collection through Instant Messaging), we adjusted the study to be an ex-post facto study, looking at the association 11

between actual voting behaviour and engagement with the online campaign (self-reported and gathered by public Facebook data). Table A presents the research questions, the types of analysis, and data sources that were used. TABLE A: RESEARCH DESIGN OF THE IMPACT STUDY AND ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL MEDIA OF #2X CAMPAIGN




Q1a. What levels of reach & engagement did the #2x digital campaign achieve Q1b. Who didn't the online #2X campaign reach? Descriptive study for Twitter and

Facebook and Twitter: Platform analytics

People who were

Facebook: Descriptive statistics

and scrape socio-demographics from

exposed to the #2X

for levels and types of

open data sources (e.g.

online campaign

engagement on each social

through Facebook or

media platform and associated

WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger: Ask


people for their demographics (only


those who were invited for the impact study). Activations: Collect demographics from people who attend community meetings.

Q2a. What issues did young people raise, and which ones seem to matter the most? Q2b. How did #2X identify and amplify these issues towards wider public discussion and debate? Descriptive study for Twitter and

Facebook and Twitter: Conversations

People who engaged

Facebook: Thematic analysis of

selected to feature in the VIP portal; and

with the #2X online

themes and language using

all Twitter conversations with the #2X

campaign through

thematic coding.


Facebook or Twitter and the wider online

Community meetings (activations): Focus groups pre-election for determining youth issues.



Q3a. Did the #2X campaign increase youth propensity to vote? Q3b. Which channels had the most effect? Impact study

WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger: Online

904 participants in the

Ex-post facto design: Logistic

questionnaires to gather information on

impact study, invited

regressions and chi-squares to

registration to vote, propensity to vote

to participate through

analyse the association between

(before the election) and voting turnout.

email (from Livity

exposure to the campaign)

audience), Facebook

through different channels and

Facebook and Twitter: Link themes of

and Twitter (using a

propensity to vote (controlling for

conversations to propensity to vote,


participant’s characteristics).

demographics and channels. Compare with data analytics and conversation content (cf. research questions 1 and 2).

Q4. How did the campaign influence propensity to vote among demographic groups? Impact study

Online questionnaires (via WhatsApp,

904 participants in the

Correlational study of pre- and

Facebook Messenger, and by email), to

impact study, invited

post- election: Test a conceptual


to participate through

model that explains the process

a. Registration to vote, propensity to

email (from Livity

whereby exposure to the

vote (before the election) and voting

audience), Facebook,

campaign is linked to propensity

turnout after the election.

and Twitter (using a

to vote/actual voting.

b. Political attitudes, civic agency, and demographics. c.

Attitudes toward campaign at end of campaign and whether participants thought the campaign influenced their behaviour, feelings of civic agency/democratic power.



C. DATA COLLECTION MODES: SOCIAL MEDIA, ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRES AND FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSIONS Livity aimed to collect youth-articulated issues in a number of ways. One was to conduct Focus Group Discussions (FGD) during their “real world activations”, and another was to analyse content of social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter). The impact of the #2X online campaign was evaluated through online questionnaires distributed via different channels to people who were and who were not exposed to the #2X campaign. Activations were public events organised and run by Livity to foster youth engagement with the #2X campaign. There were 3-4 activations each month between April and July, with 11 in total taking place across the country. Before the first activation, the FGD guide was reviewed by Africa’s Voices and refined to fit with other planned research (e.g. impact study). The final version of the FGD guide was created and implemented by Livity. The online questionnaires were administered at three different times: when the #2X online campaign started (pre-election 1), two days before the election (pre-election 2) and one to three weeks after the election (post-election). The questionnaires covered socio-demographics, sociopolitical attitudes, propensity to vote (actual voting), exposure to the #2X campaign, and subjective evaluation of the campaign. Some questions were repeated in all questionnaires (e.g., propensity to vote) to ascertain change over time, but other questions were questionnaire-specific (e.g. sociodemographics, satisfaction with democracy). Email

Facebook Messenger


Pre-election survey 1 (s1) 112



Pre-election survey 2 (s2) 101 (63 from s1)

(some of the questions)

Post-election survey 323 (56 from s1 and s2) 476 Total* 372



*Participants overlap across surveys.


A list of the questions used in the surveys and in the FGDs can be seen in Table C (Annex). Some questions were borrowed from the Afrobarometer questionnaire for South Africa (Round 6, 2014) while others were designed by Livity for the FGDs and adapted for the online questionnaires. The questions designed by AVF were tested using cognitive interviews during the activations by an Africa’s Voices researcher. 14

D. PROCEDURAL CHALLENGES AND REVISIONS During the project, we experienced a number of unforeseen challenges, as listed in the Table D. This required flexibility to swiftly revise our method. TABLE D: CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS TO THE PROJECT

Challenge Development

Our solution

The FGD guide was not designed in

Future projects need a more

of Focus Group parallel with the impact questionnaires; integrated mixed method approach, Discussion

there were no post-election FGDs to

which involves more collaboration

(FGD) guide

compare with the post-election survey

between AVF and the client in

data. Additionally, most participants

research design and method

were not available for interviews, and


little time was afforded to conducting one-on-one interviews. Participation

In the early stages of the campaign, we

Questionnaire data was collected

using USSD

aimed to use USSD to collect survey

using an email-distributed online

data for people not exposed to the #2X survey. online campaign. Participation was low with USSD as messages were not free. Technical

The platform we were using to manage We used Facebook Messenger to

issues with

Instant Messaging messages, Ongair,

collect survey data for the post-


stopped working one week before the

election questionnaire. As the

election, preventing AVF from

participants were different from the

distributing the second pre-election

initial Whatsapp group, we asked

questionnaire and the post-election

some questions from the pre-election

survey to WhatsApp participants

questionnaires to complement

through it.

information (e.g. socio-political attitudes).

Messages on

The messages on the VIP portal were

We scraped Twitter for all messages

Livity’s online

selected from Twitter and Facebook by

with #2X (or similar) for our social

VIP Portal

Livity based on their relevance, but

media analysis.

only very few of these actually included #2X (or similar).



Contacting participants on Facebook

We created a new Facebook identity


Messenger was problematic because

that showed the collaboration


participants needed to contact us first

between Livity and AVF in the profile

before we could send the questions.

picture and advertised the survey in

Adding participants as friends had

the cover photo. We also asked

almost no success, and it compromised people who had already responded to the anonymity of the researchers, as

the survey to invite anyone else who

well as maintaining the Livity brand.

may have engaged with the #2X campaign.

E. CONSIDERATIONS ABOUT THE REPRESENTATIVENESS OF THE FGDS AND IMPACT STUDY In the early activations, we realised that those who participated in the focus group discussions were mostly university students already strongly engaged in politics. Students tend to represent more privileged youth in South Africa and have more access to social media. They often spoke specifically about student issues rather than youth issues more generally. In the analysis of social media, considering gender binary, there was an overrepresentation of messages from males in the messages of the VIP Live ZA portal, with 62.8% messages from males compared to 49% of men in the population (1% and over) [z(762)=7.63, p<.001)]. This may possibly reflect a bias of users of Facebook and Twitter compared to the general population. The bias of the group of participants in the impact study in relation to the population of South Africa was evaluated against the official figures for the population for gender, age, and voter turnout in 2016 (Municipal Election) and in 2014 (General Election). The population figures were gathered from the 2016 Community Census2 (Statistics South Africa) and the Electoral Commission of South Africa3. In the impact study there was a significant gender bias relative to the general population with 61% women (considering gender binary), compared to 51% of the population [z(903)=6.02, p<.001)]. Participants were also significantly younger relative to the population with 91.5% younger than 30 years compared to 40.6% of the population [z(903)=31.1, p<.001)].


3 16

The voter turnout in 2016 municipal elections among the participants of the impact study was reported as 64.3%. This figure is higher than the participation for the whole population (58%). The confidence interval (95% ) of 64.3% for the population is 63.6% to 69.9%, making this bias statistically significant [z(903)=3.84, p<.001)]. Referring to the the 2014 National and Provincial Elections, the turnout in the population was 73.5%. Turnout among the impact study participants was lower at 66.8% (note: some of the participants were too young to vote in 2014). The 95% confidence interval is 63.5% to 70%, and this bias is also statistically significant [z(903)=4.56, p<. 001)]. This shows that the characteristics of people who participated in the impact study are not representative of the South African population when it comes to their voting behaviour. Given that studies have consistently shown that voter turnout is lower among young people, especially in the 2016 elections (Tracey, 2016), the fact that the impact study participants are younger that the general population accentuates the bias on voting turnout.â&#x20AC;Š



Livity #2X Debate in Ratanda Photo credit:Thabiso Molatlhwa

Results Q1a: What levels of reach and engagement did the #2x digital campaign achieve? We used Twitter Advanced Search to collect tweets, including Livity’s campaign hashtags, to assess interaction with their campaign. Overall, 478 tweets were gathered for #2XRatanda, #2XChat, #2XDebate, #2XJozi, #2XPE, and #2XVote from 61 unique users (12 were male, 18 female, 31 of unknown gender).


82% of tweets originated from female and 18% from male users, with gender unknown in 202 cases (42% of all tweets). Livity’s campaign hashtags, #2XChat, #2XDebate, and #2XJozi, appeared among Twitter trending topics on 3rd June, 13th July, and 28th July respectively. The VIP Live ZA Facebook page and the @VIPLiveZA Twitter handle were analysed to gather information about reach and interaction of Livity’s posts and tweets. We 19

analysed two metrics for each platform: number of impressions of a post (Facebook)/tweet and number of shares (Facebook)/retweets (Twitter). Impressions of a post or tweet are the number of times a post/tweet is displayed on timelines/ streams. Impressions and shares/retweets were chosen as metrics because they are defined the same way and therefore provide comparable units of analysis between two platforms. The #2X campaign contained offline and online elements. 3914 users interacted with the


Facebook page through likes and comments.


Other digital platforms included Youtube,

Premium Display and Deezer. All online channels combined, the campaign achieved (Source: #2X Post-Campaign Report): • 57,517,710 Impressions • 153,794 Clicks • 162,938 Social Media Engagements • 12,000,000 Unique Users reached (estimated)



In our impact study (904 people), 52 people engaged with the VIP Live Facebook page. However none of the participants in the study engaged with Twitter #2X campaign. For those 52 people it was possible to gather information about their age, interest in politics, satisfaction with democracy, and online behaviour.

Q1b: Who didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the online #2X campaign reach? The online #2X campaign reached people whose socio-demographics characteristics, political and social attitudes and voting behaviour may differ from the general population. We need to understand who was reached are and how they differ from those not exposed to the online campaign. Based on the results of the impact study we can assume that the campaign reached both genders, particularly young and new voters (19-22 years old), people with high interest and involvement in politics (Figure 8)4, and people who think their living standards are the same or better than other South Africans5. Many people who were exposed had been participating in politics through varied activities such as being part of protests, strikes and complaining to representatives in person and online.


As most of those reached through activations and



77% of those who were exposed to the campaign on Facebook were somewhat or very interested in politics, compared to 54.5% of those who were not exposed to the online campaign. The same figure was 55.1% for a representative sample of South Africans from Afrobarometer (round 6, 2015), showing that people who were exposed to the campaign were more interested in politics that the general South African population. 5

For those exposed to the Facebook campaign, 41.9% said that they are better or much better than other South Africans. The same figure was 42.4% for those not exposed to the campaign. Based on a representative sample from Afrobarometer (6th round, 2015), 42.2% of South Africans think they are better or much better. Therefore the impact study does not show any bias in relation to subjective living standards compared to the South African population.


through our questionnaires were students and below 30 years old (91.5% in impact study), it suggests that older generations who have online access (30 and above) were not as engaged with the campaign, as well as those less interested in politics. However, generalisation from the impact study to everyone that the campaign reached is problematic due to non-probabilistic sampling.

Q2a: What issues did young people raise, and which ones seem to matter the most? Thematic analysis was conducted on the social media messages displayed on the online portal (VIP Live ZA) in the run up to the municipal elections. A total of 1024 messages posted by 764 unique online accounts between 22 April and 7 August 2016 were labeled and analysed. 95% of messages originated from Twitter and 5% from Facebook. 37% of authors were female and 63% male; the gender was unknown in 473 cases. Coding and theme development was directed by the content of the data. Candidate themes were checked against the raw data to determine whether they convincingly represented the data, as well as answered the research question. During this phase, the themes were refined. Refinement of themes involved combining, separating, and discarding candidate themes based on factors such as whether there was enough data to support them, the diversity of the codes, and whether themes could be usefully separated or collapsed into a single theme. Additional themes were introduced following interim report discussions to better represent Livityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s topics of interest. Messages were labeled according to the resulting coding frame. As a message can invoke multiple themes, each message doesn't fall under one distinct category, but can take up to three labels. A variety of themes appeared in the labelled messages. The majority of these conversations revolved around the issues summarised in Table E. An interactive dashboard of Facebook & Twitter conversation themes over time is available at





1. GOVERNANCE, POLITICS, AND DEMOCRACY Messages about governance in South Africa, and about the political parties and

Corruption and deception. Distrust of government due to scandals, and perceived lack of motivation or ability to act in the best interest of citizens. Demarcation. Frustration with being ignored over district boundary issues. Elections. The municipal election process. Freedom Day. Celebrating the first democratic elections.

politicians in the run

Parties and Leadership. Actions of political parties and lack of faith in leaders.

up to municipal

Politicians. Comments about individual politicians.


Political Killings. Related to the Political Killings campaign, and specific political parties. US Politics. Discussions around US elections and racist incidents in the country. Women in politics. Representation of women in politics; comments on male-oriented nature of #2XJozi

2. SOCIAL ISSUES Topics of national political interest; issues to be discussed and resolved.

Economic inequality. Unequal distribution of wealth; low wages. Economy. The weak state of the country’s economy Employment. Lack of employment opportunities Expropriation. Expropriation Bill and use of land Homelessness. Mainly in relation to the #CEOSleepout2016 campaign Racism. Racism, racial inequality, and racial divide. Comments on Judge Mabel Jansen. Rape and Rape Culture. Often in response to Judge Jensen’s comments (closely tied to racism), or in reference to the RU list (call to end rape culture). Sanitary pads. Lack of promised free pads Street violence. Safety issues on the streets Systemic issues. Structural interplay between race, economic inequalities, legacy of apartheid etc. Tribalism. Messages attributing political differences to tribalism Youth and elders. Tensions between younger and older populations. Women’s Issues. Comments revolving around women’s month or the Truworth’s Mother’s Day campaign (

3. POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT Messages about strategies for change and the consequences of these actions.

Media. Primarily discussions around the media coverage of the Tshwane protests and the role of social media Participation. Engaging in political issues through community meetings/organizations, petitions, or democratic institutions in general Political Activists. Celebrating politically engaged people, mainly Brenda Fassie following her death. Political change. Discussing the possibility of broad political change in the country Violent Political Protest. Mostly conversations about the Vuwani school torching (with a peak when schooling resumed) and Tshwane protests (a second peak at the time of the outbreak of the unrest) Voting. Includes messages for #HideYourParentsIDs Voting Outcomes. Discussing election results


4. SERVICE DELIVERY Education. Messages centred around (1) petitions for changes in education, e.g., certificate handover and textbook revision, and (2) the #WhatSchoolDidUouGoTo campaign about using school choice for testing whiteness

Messages about access to public services, such as

Service Delivery. Issues with service delivery in general

education and water.

Transport. Inequalities arising from lack of safe and reliable public transport.

Mabel Jansen’s comments exposed

Vuwani school torching

Tshwane unrest

Teaching resumes in Vuwani schools


Table E summarises the themes of online conversations, which were grouped into four categories. Figure 10 shows the frequency of these themes over time: •

Governance, Politics, and Democracy

Social Issues

Political Engagement

Service Delivery

The Governance, Politics, and Democracy category encapsulates themes that relate to the system, processes, and people of government in South Africa, as well as related governance themes, including US politics and female representation in politics. The themes in this category revealed 24

both dissatisfaction with the government itself (e.g. corruption) and with the decisions it makes in the absence of approval from citizens (e.g. defining new district boundaries), thereby failing to listen to and deal with the concerns of those it represents.

Reading the Vuwani [district] judgment, it becomes clear that the judiciary and executive consider public consultation to be no more than box ticking. (Tweet)

With regards to the Corruption and Deception theme, comments were made about President Zuma who authors accused of corruption and being a liar and a thief. Others mentioned a growing lack of trust in the motivation or ability of leaders to serve the best interests of citizens (see the theme Parties and Leadership), which was a cause for

concern, especially on May 16th following disruption in parliament. Another common view was that South African voices were not being heard, especially with regards to district boundaries. This was the basis for the theme, Demarcation, in the Governance, Politics, and Democracy category. Other comments belonging to this category related to the process of the municipal Elections, South Africa’s Freedom Day, individual Politicians, Political Killings, US politics (especially regarding Donald Trump and racism in America), and Women in Politics. Mabel Jansen’s comments exposed Teaching resumes in Vuwani schools Vuwani school torching

Tshwane unrest


A narrative of inequality was reflected in themes belonging to the Social Issues category. This category included themes that represent topics of national political interest because they affect a significant number of people within the society. Such topics need to be discussed and ultimately resolved for inequality gaps to decrease. Racism was the biggest theme in this category. The main discourse was that racism still exists and is deeply embedded in South African history. In an attempt to address this, South Africa’s parliament


approved the land expropriation Bill, which aims to redress racial disparities in land ownership. Messages relating to this Bill are captured in the Expropriation theme. A range of other concerns relating to racism were also expressed, e.g. racism in education. Some messages expressed resignation to the ingrained nature of racism, or discontent with having to assimilate into white culture to get by.

Blacks need to stop seeking White acceptance. They'll never get it […] No legislation will change them. Move on (Tweet)

This category also includes socioeconomic issues, with comments that reveal discontent with the Economy, with Economic Inequality, and with levels of Employment and of Homelessness in South Africa.

#MabelJansen must resign / be

These were often tied to racial injustice, and seen by many as a

fired, but my biggest concern is

Systemic Issue. This was exacerbated by a recent incident where the

the organisation that appointed

comments of a judge about rape culture in black communities had

her a judge. What are the

been leaked. Her comments were considered by many to represent a

checks & balances (Tweet)

larger structural problem.

Come join the @UCTSurvivors protest today at meridian on Jammie plaza. #UCTSpeaksBack #EndRapeCulture (Tweet)

As well as reflecting Systemic Issues, the judge’s comments led to hostile responses to her perceived assumption about who the victims of rape are. This relates to another key theme belonging to the second category: Rape and Rape Culture. Some comments belonging to this category followed incidents in South African universities.

Mabel Jansen’s comments exposed Vuwani school torching

Tshwane unrest

Teaching resumes in Vuwani schools



We’ve come to the point in our country,

Other gender-specific themes ranged from breastfeeding in public (captured in the theme Women’s Issues) to the failure of the government to provide feminine hygiene products to girls in low-income communities (see the theme Sanitary Pads). Following a post on the VIP Live ZA Facebook page, there were also comments about the prevalence of

where being ignored has frustrated us so much that the only [way] to be heard is to be loud. I’m not justifying violence and disruptive behavior but the most drastic changes we’ve seen in this country have come from some of the most violent protest actions.

“blessers” (sugar daddies), highlighting an inherent power imbalance between men and women in South African society.

The best form of protest will come on 03 August 2016, when the people of #Vuwani

Other themes captured in this category included Street

can vote for change that will move SA forward

Violence, related to a lack of personal safety on the streets,

again. (Tweet)

and Youth and Elders, related to disagreements in political views between the younger and older generations in South Africa. Political Engagement, the third category of themes depicted in Table E, examines how dissatisfaction with the government and a feeling of not being heard is manifesting in society. The most notable form of political engagement discussed during the #2X campaign was Violent Political Protest. In particular, people discussed the vandalism of schools in Vuwani as an expression of strong opposition to district boundary changes. Protest did not always take the form of vandalism and violence. For example, there was mention of petitions and calls for people to come together in solidarity, captured in the Participation theme. Additionally, some highlighted the importance of Voting to provoke change.

Tshwane unrest

Mabel Jansen’s comments exposed Teaching resumes in Vuwani schools Vuwani school torching


#HideYourParentsIDs is hilarious/interesting.

Specific to youth engagement, the #HideYourParentsID

What would the results of an election without

hashtag resulted in some additional positive comments

"experienced" voters be? #2X (Tweet)

about the power of the youth vote. However, there was also a sense that people feel a lack of empowerment when it comes to the democratic process.

Waste of time. You vote for a counsellor, then the council of the munipality comes back and tell the

Other comments captured in the Political Engagement

community wont be getting any developments

category were comments about particular Political

for two years, and they will be directing such

Activists such as Brenda Fassie, broad Political Change

services to their hometowns. Useless!!!!

in South Africa, Media, and Voting Outcomes (results of

(Facebook Comment)

the elections). Closely related to the other themes and categories was access to Services in South Africa. In this final

#WhatSchoolDidYouGoTo? Because your education

category, an awareness of inequality was again

is meaningless unless you went to a school with


white kids #2X

Comments highlighted how inequalities relate

Education is expensive. Transport is difficult. Walking,

to access to particular services, including a lack

especially while being a woman, is unsafe. Access is

of safe and reliable Public Transport, allowing

almost impossible if you can't walk. Privilege is

people to attain and retain jobs, and differences

perpetuating inequality so we can't get involved in the

in the quality of education received in

job market. Racism persists visibly in the form of

predominantly white versus predominantly

shacks and gated estates. What needs to happen

black schools.


Mabel Jansen’s comments exposed

Teaching resumes in Vuwani schools

Tshwane unrest

Vuwani school torching


Q2b: How did #2X identify and amplify these issues towards wider public discussion and debate? To answer this question, we brought together three different narratives: 1) Activities of the # 2X campaign, 2) Online Audience Engagement, and 3) National Media events.


The first is ‘Livity’s #2X campaign’ which documents the key moments in Livity’s campaign strategy. Activations allowed a space for offline dialogue within communities that may not have had as easy access to the digital discussions, which launched soon after the activations. The digital campaign (via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Deezer and Premium Display), television, radio and cinema campaigns ran until late July, catalysing dialogue around the upcoming elections via myriad platforms. Aligned with the Livity’s desire to reach out to communities offline, their interactive billboard campaign followed soon after, calling on communities to literally write their thoughts on large chalkboard-like murals.


Livity’s campaign, both online and offline, triggered dialogue on topical national events. Political events or moments did not gather as much online engagement if they were not ongoing, such as the EFF manifesto launch, despite it being tied to the elections. The second narrative is the online conversations sparked by the #2X campaign. Some of these were fuelled by distinct media events, as illustrated in this timeline, while other media events did not garner as much traction on the online campaign. As seen in the ‘Online Audience Engagement’ timeline, peaks in themes of racism, rape, violent political protest, education coincided with the racist comments of Judge Mabel Jansen, Tshwane protests and the burning of schools in Vuwani. Other key national media events (as depicted in the third timeline) did not gather as much online attention, such as the potential postponement of the elections, the DA marching for employment, the EFF manifesto launch, controversy over the ANC election spending and the SABC protests surrounding censorship. Pinpointing the key media moments during the Livity Campaign was achieved using an advanced Twitter and Google search, where keywords and dates were selected to narrow down the main media events during the period of April 22 to August 3. Back issues of the City Press, Daily Sun, and The Star, some of South Africa’s largest newspapers, were also analysed. Each paper was selected for belonging to a separate publisher and for having a diverse target market. There were distinct overlaps with key events that came up during Livity’s campaign, yet other isolated political events that made headlines did not. The timeline provides a visual representation of where the campaign thrived, as well as where it could have been better maintained or involved with other key media events. Nonetheless, the nuanced modes of engagement across the country undeniably laid the foundation for innovative means of digital campaign engagement in South Africa and elsewhere.

An interactive version of the timeline is available at:


Q3a: Did the #2X campaign increase youth propensity to vote? This research question implies a causal link between engagement with #2X campaign and propensity to vote. However, the research design employed (ex-post facto design) does not allow us to establish unequivocally a causal relationship. In the presence of a statistical association, two problems threaten

It [the #2X campaign] just compelled

the validity of a causal conclusion: (1) other (third) variables may

me to vote and made me realise that

explain both engagement with the online campaign and voting

I could have a say, even though it is

behaviour (e.g. interest in politics); (2) due to self-selection of

one vote - NA

people who were exposed to the online campaign, we cannot assume that the group exposed is equivalent in key variables (e.g.

It [the #2X campaign] made it trendy

age) to the group not exposed to the campaign.

to vote - NA

These two problems would only have been resolved if a true experiment was carried out, with a pre-post test with control group design. If such a design was possible, we would have randomly assigned participants to two groups â&#x20AC;&#x201D; exposed and notexposed to online campaign â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and evaluated the initial propensity to vote in both groups. If the percentage of people who voted was significantly higher in the experimental group (controlling for initial propensity to vote), we would have assumed that the campaign had a positive effect. In our impact study, 54.6% were exposed to the online campaign on Facebook (response rate =89.2%) and 39% on Twitter (response rate=88.6%). Some of those (52) exposed to Facebook campaign interacted with the campaign by liking or commenting a post, but no one interacted with Twitter. I hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t previously shown interest

The association between exposure to #2X campaign and voting suggests that people who were exposed to the #2X campaign on Facebook were more likely to vote [chi-square(1)=9.59, p=.002]. This result refers to a statistical association that is necessary but not sufficient for a causality claim.

in the elections due to strong personal convictions but the powerful imagery [of the #2X campaign] and motivation that the youth played such a powerful role in politics this year struck a major

To offer support for the causal link, we will test hypotheses in turn that will refute competing explanations. However even if all the hypotheses are refuted, we cannot talk of strict but weak causality (as there are other hypotheses that have not been tested). 32

chord in me - Male

It [the #2X campaign] motivated me to go and vote - 19-22, Female







Hypothesis A: Age and gender may both be associated with exposure to campaign and to voting, creating a spurious association between exposure to #2X on Facebook and voting behaviour (False). Although there is no gender difference in exposure to the #2X campaign on Facebook, there is a linear effect of age, with younger age groups more likely to be exposed (79.5% in age group 19-22; 73.9% in 23-26 age group; 71.0% in 27-30) compared to older age groups (50.0% in 30 and older.) When the association between exposure to #2X campaign on Facebook and voting is controlled by age and gender, the main effect (of #2X FB) is still significant (Table F). People who were exposed to the #2X campaign on Facebook were nearly 3 times more likely to vote in the 2016 municipal elections (Table F).


Coefficient (B)

Std. Error

z value

Pz (>|z|)

Exp (B)







Age: 19-22












Age: 27-30






Gender: Female






#2X FB







Hypothesis B: People more interested in politics are more likely to engage in online campaigns in Facebook and also to vote, creating a spurious correlation between exposure to #2X on Facebook and voting behaviour (False). The effect of exposure to Facebook campaign also holds when controlled for interest in politics, age and gender [B=0.24, p=.008]. In fact, the association between exposure to the campaign on Facebook and voting is stronger for people less interested in politics (at beginning of campaign).


For people less interested in politics, the gain of being exposed to the campaign was 23.2% (more people to vote) compared to people more interested in politics whose gain of being exposed to the campaign was 17.1% extra on turnout.

Q3b: Which channels had the most effect? The association of voting behaviour and exposure to the campaign on Facebook was stronger than on Twitter - however the latter association is also statistically significant when controlled by age, gender and interest in politics [B=0.21, p=.001] (see figures 15 and 16).

Q4: How did the #2X campaign influence propensity to vote amongst demographic groups? The #2X online campaign was associated with voting in all groups based on gender and age, but particularly effective for men and younger people (19-22 years old) as well as those with low interest in politics at the beginning of the campaign.


Response variables

Conceptual model Personal




Attending a political rally or meeting, persuading others to vote, working for a


Interest in politics


Satisfaction with




candidate or political party



on Facebook and Twitter

Discussion of


politics online and offline Registered to vote

Above is a conceptual model that explains how the #2X campaign influenced voting behaviour and other forms of political participation. Exposure to the #2X online campaign was also associated with other forms of participation, for example, attending political meetings6 campaign rallies7, persuaded others to vote for a certain candidate or political party8, when controlling for age gender and interest in politics.


[odds ratio=1.46, p<.001 for Facebook and odds ratio=1.38, p<.001 for Twitter],


[odds ratio=1.42, p<.001 for Facebook and odds ratio=1.31, p<.001 for Twitter]


[odds ratio=1.25, p<.01 for Facebook and odds ratio=1.06, p>.05 for Twitter] 36

Livity #2X Debate in Cape Town 37

Photo credit:Thabiso Molatlhwa

Conclusions A. KEY INSIGHTS Thematic analysis of social media Young people spoke about a range of issues on social media in the run up to municipal elections. These issues reflected a general dissatisfaction with the government and a sense of disparity, prejudice, discrimination, and injustice. This was propagated by a government that was perceived to not be acting in the best interests of its citizens, and by inequalities between social groups, especially based on race. These are issues of representation and inequality. The central discourse was a sense of unfairness and a lack of social cohesion. The underlying sentiment was that it was unfair to ask people to contribute to nation building when the government does not hear the voices of its citizens and when some social groups are notably more disadvantaged than others.

Representation There were numerous expressions of discontent with how the government intervenes in the development of the South African nation. There was both dissatisfaction with the government itself in terms of its corruption, and with the decisions it makes in the absence of approval from its citizens, such as defining new district boundaries. The issue of district boundaries was at the forefront of concern on social media due to recent vandalism, especially burning schools, as a form of protest. Contrary to what might have been the purpose of such protests, the result on Twitter seemed to be a blame game, with different people, parties, and movements becoming targets of accusation, including Vuwani chiefs, the EFF, the ANC, the apartheid regime, and the 3rd force, etc. There was clear disapproval of this type of action as a form of protest, and of other incidents like it (e.g. setting fire to Fort Hare University). There was also concern about how communities would recover from these forms of protest and how the perpetrators would be punished. However, there was also a sense that these actions arise out of governmental apathy towards the concerns of its citizens, and that these more disruptive forms of protest are the only way to be heard. 38

Inequality Inequality was the underlying narrative in many of the comments, most notably manifested in racial tension. Nations are built on a sense of belonging amongst citizens, despite diversity. However, as was apparent in messages about racism, this ideal is far from the reality. Comments about the apartheid regime followed by imposed desegregation suggests that recent history underpins these tensions. In particular, education and employment were identified as key areas of inequality. This was consistently linked to a lack of money and/or racial discrimination. Employment was discussed in relation to safe and affordable transport. This is important because transport directly affects access to schools and workplaces. The resulting social divisiveness and economic consequences perpetuate these inequalities, forming a vicious cycle.

Study of #2X campaign’s impact on youth propensity to vote Exposure to the #2X online campaign was associated with voting. This association was stronger for exposure to the campaign on Facebook than on Twitter. As a popular, accessible, and trusted platform, the VIP Live ZA Facebook page provided a forum for young people to discuss politics and to engage with multimedia content. The Facebook campaign was particularly important for the younger groups, mainly new voters and those with less interest in politics at the beginning of the campaign. Facebook conversations were led by those more interested in politics, and drew in their peers who could observe that it can be cool to talk about and be engaged in politics, and possible to do so in forums they are comfortable with. Some participants said they started to discuss politics for the first time with their friends due to the #2X campaign. For those exposed to #2X online campaign, we found evidence of the campaign’s impact on young people’s offline behaviours such as an interest in attending political meetings and in contacting their representatives. Beyond the ‘vocal minority’ who contributed comments to the Facebook discussions are the ‘silent majority’, that is, those who read the discussions but did not actively engage. While they may be seen as the passive observers, their exposure to peers like them engaging in political conversations is likely to have had an impact on their attitudes about the role of young people in South African politics, opening up their imagination to their own engagement in the future.


B. RECOMMENDATIONS Content of campaigns The issues that matter most to young people are those that impact their everyday lives. A conversation about the importance of voting will not be as engaging as a conversation about how racism has affected their job opportunities, or whether the school they went to is adequately funded. Frustrations arise due to lived experiences and their felt consequences, with blame directed at the government and its ministers who are seen as being motivated by self-interest and not by citizens’ priorities. What this means is that campaigns should leave room to be led by the concerns and interests of young people — which will vary between communities and with time — more than a top-down agenda that discusses politics only in terms of a voting exercise. Young people's route into being politically engaged is by triggering conversations about issues that matter to them — which can be discovered by listening closely in focus groups and on social media using tailored analysis. It is clear that South African youth are not afraid to highlight controversial, sensitive topics. Livity should echo young peoples’ boldness to speak up on a range of issues that may otherwise be neglected by more mainstream media platforms. Livity is in a unique position to convene the nuance in national conversations, amplifying diverse opinions as expressed by its audience. To maintain and build audience engagement, Livity must also be constantly raising its brand among young people and their trust in Livity’s platforms. This can be done by leading with conversations about topics that the youth care about, in the language(s) and terminology they prefer to use.

Selection of campaign channels Facebook was the most successful platform for impacting propensity to vote, and this success can be built upon in future campaigns. Twitter was more useful for determining what issues were most important to the South African youth. For Twitter to be more impactful, Livity could take a number of steps, for example: concerted effort to spark and respond to Twitter conversations; amplify on Twitter the issues that are mentioned in other forums, and vice versa (feature issues raised on Twitter in other campaign media) and promote the campaign Twitter handle and hashtags across all campaign channels.


Engagement strategies Engagement numbers were lower than anticipated which had a knock-on effect on the analysis possible and insights gained. Africa's Voices recommends social media conversations can be bolstered by sparking conversations in other forums, e.g., radio to engage audiences, followed by social media to provide a forum for the conversation to be continued. The advantage of radio is that offline communities are also reached, with opinions gathered through channels such as SMS. We suggest engagement channels are as frictionless as possible for audiences, for example, engagement is at no financial cost to participants and takes place in forums they trust and are popular.

C. CLOSING REMARKS Africa's Voices partnership with Livity was ambitious, leveraging a variety of data sources and digital channels in order to answer several research questions. Campaign projects are dynamic and responsive; rightly so. Similarly, Africa’s Voices research had to respond to new knowledge and new project directions of the Livity team. We refined original objectives to make sure we could provide value, as well as deliver on expectations. A pilot such as this provided tremendous learning around Livity’s work and where Africa’s Voices value-add can grow. We now understand very well how to design data analysis tailored to Livity’s campaign work. We also have clear ideas about how impact studies can be best designed and deployed to align with these campaigns. Finally, we can see how our ideas around enhancing quality engagement with audiences, that delivers valuable data for measuring impact, might feature more prominently in our offering.


Flyers for Livity #2X Activation in Kimberly Photo credit:Thabiso Molatlhwa

Appendix 1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF ‘#2X RESEARCH REPORT, YOUTH VOTER MOTIVATION, AND SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACT: 2016 LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS’ BY THENJIWE MSWANE. #2X is a campaign that seeks to heighten young people's propensity to vote in the 2016 local government elections by spotlighting youth-articulated issues, engaging politicians, and injecting the news mainstream with that view. The work of the project is an impact study of reach, behavioural change, branding effect and youth issues through qualitative and quantitative research. The purpose of the research is a qualitative impact study on branding campaigns and voter motivation amongst young people. As well as engaging the use of social media surrounding voting, and politics. The target group is: • South African Youth eligible to vote in the elections •

17-35 years

Have access to social media

A total of 31 interviews were conducted. 7 Focus Group Discussions and 24 In-depth Interviews. Identifying what drives young people to vote, or abstain from doing so, is critical to strengthening democracy. The objective of this study was thus to understand the factors that influenced the voting behaviour of young South Africans between the ages of 18 and 24 years, so as to inform efforts aimed at increasing democratic participation amongst this demographic group. It must be stated that as a part of this research, marginalised groups were first preference. In the duration of this study, 4 participants identified as having a disability. 31% of the FGD’s had participants who self-identified as women, where 15 of the IDI participants were women. This was done with the understanding that the voices of the marginalised are often neglected in the conversation surrounding politics, and that such voices may provide different perspectives on issues such as service delivery, access to education, health care, voting stations to name but a few. This report illustrates that although young people acknowledge the importance of voting, they do not often identify it as the best way to bring about change. The responses narrated here show that while Young people are not as apathetic the participants are interested in what is good for the country, they often only support leaders as conventional who are not corrupt (although such leaders may be considered by mainstream media as corrupt); with whom they can lead us to believe identify; and whom they admire. A combination of low levels of trust in government, which participants described as non-responsive to their demands, and the limitations of current South African politics, are factors that often deter these young people from engaging in politics and voting.

Young peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s participation in politics and voting depends on how satisfied they are with democracy; and the performance of the ruling party and alternative political parties in addressing the socio-economic challenges they continue to face. This is a demographic group that wants to see action and change in their communities. Seldom enticed by words and promises. Most participants in this study still feel alienated and excluded from politics, and often mention that politics are too complicated and something they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know enough about to effectively engage in. The study identifies six important areas and opportunities that impact voter motivation, as well as highlights the impact that is social media branding campaigns in influencing voter motivation. The effectiveness of social media in targeting this demographic group cannot be understated (although methods of engaging politics by institutions such as Livity need to look beyond the conventional posts, and updates). This was illustrated in the social media page that Livity launched as part of the research study titled #2X. This page allowed Livity to expand its research to young people with Internet access, and further explore their views and attitudes on the elections and voting in 2016. The following of the #2X Facebook page is currently, the twitter account with and their Instagram account.




PrePre- Postelecti elect elect on 1 ion 2 ion


How old are you? Please answer with a number.



Do you identify as a man, woman, transgender, or non-binary?



On a scale from 1 to 5 how do you rate your living conditions compared to those of other South Africans? Please reply with a number, 1 (much worse) to 5 (much better).

Afrobaro -meter


Are you registered to vote? Please reply with YES or NO.



Did you vote in the last national election (May 2014)? Reply with a YES or NO.



On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to vote in the 2016 municipal elections? Please reply with a number, 1 (definitely not voting) to 5 (definitely voting).



On a scale of 1 to 5, how interested are you in politics? Please reply with a numbers from 1 (not interested at all) to 5 (extremely interested).



On a scale of 1 to 5, how satisfied are you with the way democracy works in South Africa? Reply with a number from 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied).

Afrobaro -meter


Do you think that young people can influence how democracy works in South Africa? Please answer with YES or NO.



Do you ever discuss politics with other people? Please reply with a YES or NO.



If 10 is YES: How often do you discuss politics? 1: a few times a year, 2: a few times every 6 months, 3: a few times a month, 4: a few times a week, 5: daily



If 10 is YES: Do you ever discuss politics online, for example on blogs, in comment sections, or on socials media? Please answer with YES or NO.



If 10 is NO: How often do you read/watch/listen to news about politics 1: a few times a year, 2: a few times every 6 months, 3: a few times a month 4: a few times a week, 5: daily



If 10 is NO: Do you ever read otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s comments about politics on blogs, comments sections, or social media? Please answer with YES or NO.



As a citizen, what have you done in the past when you were dissatisfied with government performance?



What could your local government do to improve lives in your region?



Have you seen the #2X campaign on TV? Please answer with YES or NO.1



How often do you visit the Facebook page of the #2X campaign? 1: never, 2: once or twice, 3: a few times a month, 4: a few times a week, 5: daily



Did you vote in the last election (3/August)? Please reply with YES or NO.

Afrobaro -meter


If 22 is NO: Which of the following statements is true for you? 1. I was too young to vote, 2. I was not registered to vote, 3. I decided not to vote, 4. I could not find the polling station, 5. I was prevented from voting, 6. I did not have time to vote, 7. I did not vote for some other reason (specify)

Afrobaro -meter


On the while, how would you rate the freeness and fairness of the last municipal elections? 1. Completely free and fair, 2. Free and fair, but with minor problems, 3. Free and fair, with major problems, 4. Not free and fair

Afrobaro -meter


Thinking about the last municipal election on 3 August 2016: Did you attend a campaign rally? Please reply with YES or NO.

Afrobaro -meter


Thinking about the last municipal election: Did you try to persuade others to vote for a certain candidate or campaign staff? Please reply with YES or NO.

Afrobaro -meter


Thinking about the last municipal election: Did you work for a candidate or party? Please reply with YES or NO.

Afrobaro -meter


Thinking about the last municipal election: Did you participate in the campaign in other ways? Please reply with YES or NO. (please specify)

Afrobaro -meter


Did you see the #2X campaign on Facebook? Please reply with YES or NO.



Did you see the #2X campaign on Twitter? Please reply with YES or NO.



Can you give some examples of messages or images you saw on the #2X campaign?2



What kind of thoughts did the #2X campaign trigger in you?3



Did your friends or family talk about the #2X campaign? Reply with YES or NO.4



Do you think the #2X campaign impacted the way the youth view voting? Please reply with YES or NO. If yes, how?5



How often did you visit the Facebook page of the #2X campaign? Never; Once or twice; A few times a month; A few times a week; Dail



How often did you read tweets from the #2X campaign? Never; Once or twice; A few times a month; A few times a week; Daily.



Do you have a Twitter account? Please reply YES or NO. If yes, whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s your Twitter name, so we can check if the #2X reached you.


Focus Group Discussion (FGD) versions of the questions: 1 Q20: Have you seen the #2X campaign? Where did you see the campaign? How did you come to seeing the campaign? Referred by a friend? 2 Q31: If you have seen the campaigns, which channels and messages have you seen? Of those channels, which ones did you engage with? How? 3 Q32: What were the effects of those messages? What kind of thoughts have they triggered on you? 4 Q33: Are your friends or family talking about the campaign? 5 Q34: Do you think the #2X campaign impacted the way the youth view voting? If so, how? Do you think campaigns such as #2X motivate people to vote? If so, how? Do you think the campaign achieves any goals? Are branding campaigns necessary to engage young people to vote? If not, why not?


It [the #2X campaign] made me see the whole election campaign cool. That somehow made me see that the future of this country is in our hands as the youth. I think my peers had the same thought too. - Female

It [the #2X campaign] made me think I have a voice too as a youth in South Africa

My vote is my voice - Female

I saw the South African Youth being depicted as a movement who actually have a voice and say, which inspired me

My peers always avoid politics because they always think it is irrelevant to them. Our parents always take a lead. Now the #2X campaign reached the youth very well. We’re always on social media and we follow the trends and anything relevant to us.

That we do have the power to change the way we see and conduct ourselves. That we do not have to depend on the political system to have that which we want to see or create in this world. It is up to us to contain and use that power. - NA

It reminded me that I have the power to change my country for the better by exercising my right to vote - NA

Website: Email: Twitter: @Africas_Voices Facebook: Africa’s Voices Foundation UK: 17A The Courtyard, Sturton Street, Cambridge CB1 2SN. Tel: +44 (0) 1223 321 653 Kenya: Mezzanine 2, The Garage//Westlands (The Mirage Building), Chiromo Road, Nairobi Africa’s Voices Foundation is a UK registered charity no. 1159589

Africa's Voices report for Livity Africa (final draft)  
Africa's Voices report for Livity Africa (final draft)