Assessing the use of 'new media' as a communication tool by the ANC,DA and EFF in the run up to South Africa's 2019 provincial and national elections.
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In May 2019, South Africa held its sixth democratic national and provincial elections. 48 political parties participated in this general election compared to the 19 that participated in 2014. Thus, the 2019 elections witnessed a significant broadening of political options that could appeal to the electorate. At the same time mechanisms for political parties to communicate and engage with voters have also evolved. Research has shown that ‘new media’, commonly known as social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for example), have increasingly become part of the political communication methods within electoral democracies. Given this, the study aimed to conduct a deep analysis of the use of Twitter as a communication tool by the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) during the election campaign period of 2019. The study adopted a qualitative method, by having a virtual ethnography approach to collect Twitter feeds. In addition, a Twitter survey was conducted in order to understand how the users received the political campaigns on the platform. The analysis was guided by the theoretical framework of Foot and Schneider (2006) which outlines and discusses four pillars (or functions) of online campaigning namely: “informing, involving, connecting and mobilizing”.