Innovation in news: local WhatsApp channel grows during election period

Innovation in news: local WhatsApp channel grows during election period

Gauteng – The Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh Xperience, otherwise commonly known to its users as #SMWX, is the latest local innovation in delivering news to mass audiences.

The #SMWX is a WhatsApp channel launched to the public in a little under two months before the election on March 10.

As is characteristic of the channel, its launch was also unconventional; it happened on another of the 21st century’s ground-breaking communication tools, Twitter.

Two months later this instant communication channel is standing at about 13,000 users. It was launched with the aim to deliver election-related content to, especially young people, in a precise and appealing format.

So, although it has thousands of users, it does not work like a WhatsApp group. Instead, it presents as if a user is having a one-on-one conversation with Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, who is the #SMWX Editorial Lead.

Local Voices caught up with Mpofu-Walsh who explained that the look, feel, and timing and credibility of the content shared on this inventive platform is the key approach to capturing a mass audience.

“Once a day, we send you [user] a quick piece of content and you can get it right on WhatsApp. In that way we want to meet people where they are; because young people are on WhatsApp. We’re tired of TV, we’re tired of radio and your phone is where your life is and that’s where we want to meet you,” said Mpofu-Walsh.

“I think the key thing about the spread of information in the current era we’re in is that you need to be able to keep pace with information. I’ve just been blown by how quickly stuff spreads on WhatsApp. We’ve never advertised this [channel].

I literally, one day on my Twitter said, hey guys, here’s a link [to the channel] and two months later we’re nearly the size of big pay TV channels on DStv. So access to information is also about access to fast information. But the even better thing is access to fast credible information and WhatsApp allows us to give you those two things which are quite rare at the moment,” continued Mpofu-Walsh.

The vibrant and colorful look of #SMWX is also done strategically to influence narratives about African identify according to Mpofu-Walsh who is also an author and musician.

“We realized very quickly that if we want to catch the eye of our audience, it had to look spectacular and that’s why we have the colors…But we also want to decolonize our images, so everything you see on the channel has an African print…we’re just like, this is how decolonization looks like on your screen,” said Mpofu-Walsh. (Edited by Philile Masango)

Pioneering uncharted territory; author, musician and editorial lead of the ground-breaking #SMWX WhatsApp news channel Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh chats to Local Voices’ Veronica Makhoali about the growth of this new platform.

Future voters have mixed feelings about current politics

Gauteng – During election week, the National Results Operations Center (ROC) in Pretoria was a hub of activity, not just for politicians and the media, but also for visitors who were keen to observe the democratic election process at work.

Some of these visitors were hard to miss; donned in full school uniform.

Local Voices spoke to these young South Africans who are the country’s future voters who said it is important to them to understand politics at a young age in order to be adults who make informed decisions in future.

So, which political views do they share with political parties, will they indeed be voting in future, and if they had to cast their votes today, which party would be appealing?

For some, none.

“Personally, I wouldn’t vote until I find a party that is worthy of my vote; someone that cares to make the country a better place. Right now, there isn’t a political party that I can identify with and that shares my interests. Right now, there isn’t such a political party,” said Unarine Luvhengo from St. Alban’s College.

Benjamin Chelule, and Iviwe Ntandane Unarine Luvhengo also from St. Alban’s College agreed with Luvhengo.

Meanwhile, primary school going Ndaloenhle Makhanya sounded a little more hopeful.

He said if he had to have his own political party, it would ensure that all South Africans are sheltered in free housing and safe.

Makhanya added that he considers it important for young children to learn visit the ROC and generally learn about politics, democracy and elections because they learn all about the legalities and illegalities of voting which will help them in future when it is their time to start voting.

“Being here is a very good experience. It teaches children what happens and how it (elections) happen. Sometimes there’s talk about different political parties, how people have been voting twice and how illegal that is…so they would be aware when it’s their chance to vote,” said 12 year old Makhanya who goes to from Pinnacle College Rynfield. (Edited by Philile Masango)

12 year old Ndaloenhle Makhanya from
Pinnacle College Rynfield shares some insights on being a future voter.
‘We’re here to change the political game’ – #FeesMustFall MP

‘We’re here to change the political game’ – #FeesMustFall MP

Gauteng – Former Wits University student and one of the #FeesMustFall leaders Fasiha Hassan, says she and her co-leaders in the student movement are entering parliament as vibrant young people who are determined to change the political game for the benefit of all South Africans.

Hassan is one of the youngest members of parliament of the African National Congress (ANC).

In October 2018, she won an international award; the Student Peace Prize for her “nonviolent efforts towards gaining equal access to higher education”.

In an interview with Local Voices, Hassan said even after government made a resolution to roll-out free tertiary education after the student-led #feesmustfall countrywide protests, she remained concerned about those classified as “the missing middle” who do not qualify for free education.

“We are having issues with implementation and the actual roll-out. But for me, it’s about what are we going to do with about the missing middle? We’ve spoken about this before; that it’s not middle class students, but they are students who don’t qualify for government funding but also don’t qualify for loans.”

Hassan says in her role as a member of the incoming parliament,
she will definitely prioritize the review and implementation of free and quality tertiary education.

“One of the big things we really want to put forward is a policy position and a policy narrative to deal with students like these [missing middle]. So it’s really ultimately looking at step two of free education. And actually, I think it only makes sense that we #feesmustfall leaders; not just myself but a number of others, lead the call now, moving on from universities and into mainstream politics and the mainstream part of the state,” added Hassan.

Hassan goes into parliament with fellow #FeesMustFall activists Naledi Chirwa, Peter Keetse, Piaba Madokwe and Vuyani Pambo, all from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and Nompendulo Mkatshwa from the ANC.  They, and other student leaders, were at the forefront of the #feesmustfall protests that started in 2015.

Local Voices reporter Veronica Makhoali speaks to #FeesMustFall activist and new ANC member of parliament (MP), Fasiha Hassan about her outlook into her new role as an MP.

Hassan says she also wants to be the driving voice for young women’s rights in particular. She says the legalization of sex work for instance, should form a huge part of the national agenda.

“As young women we think differently right? It’s lived experience but we also have that innovation. That’s why I’m particularly excited not just to be an ANC member but to be a young woman in politics right now because across the board, we’re seeing young people about to enter this space. And I really do think it’s going to start to change the political game,” said Hassan. (Edited by Philile Masango)

“2019 election is not free and fair; a rerun necessary” – ‘smaller political parties’

“2019 election is not free and fair; a rerun necessary” – ‘smaller political parties’

Gauteng – Political parties that refer to themselves as ‘so-called smaller political parties’ have declared the 2019 general election as not free nor fair and are demanding a re-run.

The ‘smaller parties’, comprising mainly of the newly established ones, staged a protest at the National Results Operating Center in Pretoria on Thursday evening.

They listed several issues that they say characterize the election for a sixth democratic government as unfair.

Among the issues listed is the reported double voting in some parts of the country, the questionable credibility of the indelible ink, inconsistencies in the delivery of IEC duties at voting stations, and media reporting which they say focuses on only three political parties (ANC, DA and EFF) at the expense of their parties.

“The parties that are here are not convinced that the trajectory that we are on, is a trajectory that will deliver on a free and fair election. There a quite a number of issues that have been raised by all of us that are here. All these issues have indeed been put to the attention of the IEC,” said – African Transformation Movement President Mzwanele Manyi.

“These elections were not free and fair, so we are going to court to contest this because only the three biggest political parties were given media attention. I can tell you that even yesterday they [media] were moving around here in front of us and did not even look at us. We looked like some cheap stuff here and yet we paid an equal amount [of money] for registration,” said Adil Nchabeleng of African People’s Convention.

African People’s Convention’s Adil Nchabeleng is concerned about media bias when it comes to election news coverage of political parties.

“The results that we see on this board make a total ridicule of all the work that we have done as so-called smaller parties as you have chosen to describe us. We are very dissatisfied with the irregularities but there is a political program to alienate dissenting voices who speak against the status quo in this country,” said Black First, Land First Deputy President Zanele Lwana.

Zanele Lwana of the Black First, Land First (BLF) party stating their concerns at the IEC results center in Pretoria.

“We don’t know why these results are being put on the board because IEC itself, in all the meetings that we’ve attended, has been agreeing with us that there are a lot of irregularities. The IEC should stop what it’s doing and go back and re-elect…they can’t arrest people for irregularities and continue giving us the results. This is wrong and the IEC is wrong,” said Bofa Ledwaba of Women Forward.

Women Forward says the arrests made with regard the questionable credibility of the indelible ink, are a confirmation by the IEC, that the election had disturbing irregularities.

The ‘smaller parties’ have officially lodged a dispute with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) with regards the concerns they have raised.

The list of political parties that are demanding an election rerun are:

  • African Transformation Movement (ATM),
  • African People’s Convention (APC),
  • African Content Movement (ACM),
  • EcoForum,
  • Women Forward (WF),
  • Black First Land First (BLF),
  • Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SWRP),
  • Better Residents Association (BRA),
  • CPM, Forum for Service Delivery,
  • South African Congress of Traditional Authorities,
  • Land Party,
  • National Freedom Party (NFP),
  • Forum for Service Delivery (F4SD),
  • International Revelation Congress (IRC)
  • PAU, and others.

(Edited by Philile Masango)

IEC removes PAC president from election candidate list

IEC removes PAC president from election candidate list

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) announced on Tuesday at a media briefing in Sandton that it upheld objections against Pan Africanist Congress of Azania’s (PAC) Alton Mphethi against contesting in the upcoming elections.

The Former PAC President was sentenced to prison in 2016 after a man was beaten to death at his house in 2008.

According to South African Law, convicted criminals, sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without an option of a fine, are not eligible to contest for public office.

PAC’s Political and Pan African Affairs Secretary, Jackie Seroke confirmed the party had objected to Mphethi’s candidacy.

“If the laws of the country do not agree that someone with a criminal background should not be a public representative, it is well and in order with us.” he said. 

The electoral body dismissed all objections brought against the African National Congress (ANC) Black First Land First (BLF), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and various political parties.

ANC received 29 objections in total, followed by the BLF with the second highest number of objections at 19. The EFF received 13 objections and four each against the DA and the Land Party.

“The Commission dismissed all other objections for failing to meet the constitutional and statutory criteria. The majority of these objections related to unproven allegations, “the IEC’s Moepya concluded.

(Edited by Simba Honde)

Alex protests continue as DA, ANC point fingers at each other

The #AlexShutdown protest saw residents march into Sandton to hand over a memorandum of demands on April 8, as parties continued to point fingers at each other.

However the memorandum was not received by the municipal director or the executive Mayor Herman Mashaba as residents requested.

Speaking to Local Voices, Alex FM reporter Malesela Mangena  said the protest has been postponed until Thursday, 11th April. He reported that organisers fear the protest may become chaotic and found it best to suspend the march as residents have become inpatient with the municipal office.

In response to the #AlexShutdown, Gauteng Premier  David Makhura announced on Twitter that President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the community of Alexandra on Thursday at Alex Stadium.

Responding to the Democratic Alliance’s claim that the African National Congress is inciting violence in Alex, he said the opposition is “blame-shifting” and not delivering to the community.

The ruling party’s  Tumelo Ramoshala said “the ANC is sharing the same sentiment as the community of Alexandra and raising out their own grievances over the dissatisfaction of service delivery.”

He adde it was unfortunate that Solly Msimanga, DA candidate for Gauteng Premier, was trying to shift attention from the issue of service delivery to its political opponents. 

Alex FM reporter Malesela Mangena describes events in Alexandra
Special Vote Applications Open

Special Vote Applications Open

If you are likely to find yourself away from home on May 8t, you have two weeks to apply to cast a special vote in the 2019 elections.

According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) “a special vote allows a registered voter who can’t cast their vote at their voting station on Election Day to apply to vote on a predetermined day before Election Day.”

In a statement released on April 4, the IEC said the window period for applications by voters to cast special votes in this year’s election has officially opened and is set to close by the 18 April 2019 

Voters eligible to cast a special vote as they will be away from their voting stations include police, public servants, emergency medical service workers and journalists.

A second kind of special vote is available to voters who are unable to reach a voting station due to physical frailty, disability or pregnancy.

Special votes will be cast on the two days before May 8, the IEC said.

Applications for special votes can be made online via a secure portal at

The IEC concluded that applicants for special votes will receive an SMS notifying them of the outcome of their application once it has been processed.